In the Atlantic, mahimahi are attracted to Sargassum, a floating brown algae which serves as both a hiding place and source of food. Managers have created a management plan for Sargassum to protect the algae as an essential fish habitat. Regulations prohibit all harvest and possession of Sargassum in certain areas and restrict commercial harvest in general. READ MORE
- Ocean perch
- Sea Bass
- Turbot (Greenland)
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Dolphin, Dorado, Dolphinfish
U.S. wild-caught from Massachusetts to Texas
- FISHING RATE
- HABITAT IMPACTS
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Mahimahi on line.LAUNCH GALLERY
Mahimahi is the Hawaiian common name for dolphinfish (no relation to dolphin the mammal). Dolphinfish is also sometimes known as dorado. Although most people associate mahimahi with Hawaii, this colorful fish is abundant in tropical and subtropical oceans and supports important commercial, artisanal, and recreational fisheries around the world.
Most U.S. harvest of mahimahi comes from the Pacific, mainly Hawaii. About a third of the commercial harvest comes from the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, where the recreational fishery for this species is more dominant. While mahimahi is abundant and can support a high rate of harvest, managers have adopted a precautionary approach to managing these fisheries. Recognizing the significant importance of mahimahi to the recreational fishing community in this area, managers seek to maintain the current harvest levels of mahimahi and ensure that no new fisheries develop to preserve the historical and current allocation of the resource between recreational and commercial fishermen.
LOCATION & HABITAT
Mahimahi live near the surface in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. Young mahimahi swim together in schools, but older fish are usually found alone. Larger males prefer open ocean habitat while females and smaller males are commonly found near natural and artificial floating objects, including a floating brown algae called Sargassum (in the Atlantic).
Mahimahi grow fast, up to almost 7 feet and 88 pounds, and live a short time, up to 5 years. They’re a very productive fish. They’re able to reproduce early in life, at 4 to 5 months old, and scientists believe mahimahi spawn every 2 to 3 days throughout their entire spawning season, perhaps even year-round. Females release between 33,000 and 66,000 eggs each time they spawn. In the Atlantic, they spawn under patches of Sargassum.
Mahimahi are top predators and only have a few predators themselves. They feed in surface water during the day and eat a wide variety of species, including small pelagic fish, juvenile tuna, billfish, jacks, and pompano, and pelagic larvae of nearshore, bottom-living species. They also eat invertebrates such as cephalopods (octopus, squid, etc.), mysids (small, shrimp-like creatures), and jellyfish. Large tuna, rough-toothed dolphin, marlin, sailfish, and swordfish feed on mahimahi, particularly juveniles.
Mahimahi is a brightly colored fish – the back is an electric greenish blue, the lower body is gold or sparkling silver, and the sides have a mixture of dark and light spots. Their bright pattern fades almost immediately after they’re harvested. Mahimahi can be distinguished from the pompano dolphin by its 55 to 66 dorsal fin rays and a very wide, square tooth patch on the tongue.
Scientists conducted an exploratory assessment of mahimahi in 2000 and determined the stock was not overfished, but they have not conducted a formal stock assessment.
Scientists assume mahimahi populations are abundant because they’re highly productive and widely distributed throughout tropical/subtropical oceans.
Harvesting Atlantic Mahimahi
Commercial fishermen harvest mahimahi with hook-and-line gear, including handlines and longlines. Some longline fisheries targeting swordfish and tuna incidentally catch and harvest mahimahi, too.
Hook-and-line gear has minimal impact on habitat because it doesn’t contact the ocean floor, but longlines can incidentally catch sea turtles, marine mammals, and other species. Longline fishermen follow numerous measures to prevent bycatch and protect other species. For example, longline fishermen must use specific gear and safe handling techniques to reduce impacts on sea turtles and are prohibited from fishing in certain areas to protect species such as billfish.
Who’s in charge? NOAA Fisheries and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (in cooperation with the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils). (The Pacific and Western Pacific Fishery Management Councils are responsible for U.S. fisheries for mahimahi in the Pacific.)
Atlantic: Dolphin Wahoo Fishery of the Atlantic Fishery Management Plan
- Fishermen and dealers must have the appropriate permits to harvest and sell mahimahi.
- 20-inch fork length minimum size limit for mahimahi off the coasts of Georgia and Florida to protect smaller fish. Managers have proposed the same size limit for mahimahi off the coast of South Carolina; this measure should be implemented in 2012.s
Gulf of Mexico: Mahimahi was formerly included in the Fishery Management Plan for Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic for data collection purposes, but no management actions have ever been needed for this species. Managers recently removed mahimahi from this management plan, but they can still collect catch data on this species. If harvests or interest in fishing for mahimahi changes in the future and managers determine regulations are necessary, they can add the species back to the management plan.
The majority (about two-thirds) of the U.S. harvest of mahimahi comes from the Pacific, mainly Hawaii. In 2010, total U.S. harvest of mahimahi was over 2.25 million pounds. Over 725,000 pounds were harvested commercially in the Atlantic and Gulf. The majority of this came from Florida and North Carolina.
Ecuador, Peru, and Taiwan are the leading suppliers of mahimahi to the U.S. market.
Recreational fishermen love to fish for mahimahi. In fact, the fishery for mahimahi in the Atlantic and Gulf has historically been recreational. Recreational fishermen can only keep mahimahi larger than 20 inches when fishing off Georgia and Florida. Managers have proposed the same size limit for mahimahi off the coast of South Carolina; this measure should be implemented in 2012. Recreational fishermen can keep up to 10 mahimahi per day, with a limit of 60 per boat per day (headboats are excluded from the boat limit). Regulations prohibit the sale of recreational catch (except for-hire vessels with necessary state and federal commercial permits to sell the recreational bag limit).
Mahimahi has a sweet, mild flavor. For a milder flavor, trim away darker portions of the meat. Mahimahi is lean and fairly firm with large, moist flakes. The raw flesh is pinkish to grayish-white, though dark along the lateral line. When cooked, the meat is off-white. Mahimahi has a thick skin that should be removed before cooking. (Seafood Business, 2011)
Mahimahi is low in saturated fat and is a good source of vitamin B12, phosphorus, and potassium and a very good source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, and selenium.
|Serving Weight||100 g (raw)|
|Fat, total||0.7 g|
|Saturated fatty acids, total||0.188 g|
|Sugars, total||0 g|
|Fiber, total dietary||0 g|
Mahimahi Table of Nutrition