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Honolulu Fish Auction

United Fishing Agency Auction…

better known as the Honolulu Fish Auction is held Mon-Sat mornings at 5:30 am at the Pier 38 location.

Hawaii Seafood Org…How does the fish auction work?

Honolulu Fish Auction (which was started in August 1952) is the only fish auction between Tokyo and Maine and the only fish auction in the US that auctions tuna.  (Suisan’s in Hilo, the only other fish auction site in Hawaii, stopped operating the auction on July 21, 2001, had been in existence since 1907.)    Honolulu Fish Auction’s location as one of two anchor tenants at Honolulu Harbor’s Commercial Fishing Village helps assure the freshness of its daily offerings.

Fishermen start to unload their catches directly from their boats starting around 1:00 am, then they are weighed, inspected, graded and laid out for bidders to inspect and bid on.

Up to 160,000 pounds of fish will be auctioned off in the next few hours.  From sea to boat to auction floor and off to the consumer…freshness and quality is of highest importance.

View this video from “Hawaii Seafood”

A fish auction allows everyone to come out a winner.  The fishermen are assured of getting a fair market price.  The buyers, who may be buying for wholesale fish houses, restaurants, or retail stores, are assured of getting the freshest fish possible.  And, the consumer benefits by getting fresh local fish at a fair price.  It allows the purchase of fish in smaller lots than by the shipload, allowing direct access for smaller buyers.

Another benefit of this method of selling is that there is very little waste.  No matter what the fishermen catch, there is a pretty good chance that it can be sold.   When fish are purchased under contract, as in most places, there is a lot of wasted by-catch (unintended, untargeted fish that may be caught and discarded), but since each fish is sold in small lots or individually at an auction such as this, virtually every fish caught finds a buyer.

Relocated into its present state-of-the-art location in 2004, the Honolulu Fish Auction should be around for quite some time.  At least, that is the hope of the United Fishing Agency, the local fishermen, and fish procurers alike.   Hawaii residents eat about 3 times the national average of fish annually and are very aware of freshness.  After all, if you grow up eating raw fish…poke, sashimi, or on sushi, you’re going to know fish!

Hawaii is also one of those unique places where people prefer to buy their fish whole, with their heads on, unlike most mainland stores that sell filets.   The locals want to know what kind of fish they are buying…a filet could come from any number of different fish and is easy to mislabel (intentionally or unintentionally).  And, one of the first thing any local will want to do is to see the fish’s eyes…clear, bright, and unwrinkled…to judge its freshness, as well as the bright red coloring of its gills.

So, if you’re an early riser and would like to observe something different, feel free to attend the Honolulu Fish Auction at Pier 38, Honolulu Harbor.

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