Atlantic Mahimahi

Atlantic Mahimahi

Coryphaena hippurus

ALSO KNOWN AS:

    Mahi-mahi, Mahi Mahi, Dolphin, Dorado, Dolphinfish

SOURCE:

    U.S. wild-caught from Massachusetts to Texas
 

STATUS

  • POPULATION
  • FISHING RATE
  • HABITAT IMPACTS
  • BYCATCH
 

Click the icons to learn more about each criteria

 
 

OVERVIEW

Mahimahi on line.

Mahimahi on line.

LAUNCH GALLERY

Mahimahi is also known as dolphinfish (no relation to dolphin the mammal), especially in the Atlantic. The name mahimahi is also commonly spelled as two words (mahi mahi) or hyphenated (mahi-mahi). Dolphinfish is also sometimes known as dorado.

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. Mahimahi is also a very important commercial and recreational fishery in the Caribbean. 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 the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean, managers seek to maintain the current harvest levels of mahimahi and ensure that no new fisheries develop. This helps preserve the historical and current allocation of the resource between recreational and commercial fishermen.

Looking Ahead

The allocation of the mahimahi total annual catch limit to South Atlantic fishermen is based on historical landings. The recreational sector is allocated 92.46 percent and the commercial sector is allocated 7.54 percent of the total annual catch limit. Other methods for allocating the catch limit between the recreational and commercial sectors have been previously considered by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. The council is developing an amendment that that considers modifications in the allocation of the total annual catch limit between the recreational and commercial sectors. READ MORE

 

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

 

 
 
 

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 and the Caribbean).

 
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BIOLOGY

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, 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.

 
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PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

Mahimahi are brightly colored– 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. Adult males have a square head shape but females have a more rounded head. 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.

 
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OVERVIEW

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.

 
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POPULATION STATUS

Scientists assume mahimahi populations are abundant because they’re highly productive and widely distributed throughout tropical/subtropical oceans.

 
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ADDITIONAL RESEARCH

 
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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.

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Management

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. The Caribbean Fishery Management Council is currently considering adding mahimahi to the list of their managed species in the U.S. Caribbean.

Current management:

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, Florida, and South Carolina to protect smaller fish.

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.

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Annual Harvest

The majority (about two-thirds) of the U.S. commercial harvest of mahimahi comes from the Pacific, mainly Hawaii. In 2012, total U.S. harvest of mahimahi was more than 1,100 metric tons. More than 310 metric tons were harvested commercially in the Atlantic in 2012, primarily from Florida and North Carolina. About 67 metric tons were harvested commercially in the Gulf of Mexico in 2012, primarily from Florida.

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Economy

Ecuador, Peru, and Taiwan are the leading suppliers of mahimahi to the U.S. market.

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Recreational

Recreational fishermen love to fish for mahimahi. In fact, the fishery for mahimahi in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico has historically been recreational. Recreational fishermen can only keep mahimahi larger than 20 inches when fishing off Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. 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). In 2012, recreational fishermen harvested 2,770 metric tons of mahimahi in the South Atlantic.

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OVERVIEW

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, although along the lateral line the flesh is dark. When cooked, the meat is off-white. The thick skin of mahimahi should be removed before cooking.

 
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SEASONAL AVAILABILITY

Year-round.

 
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NUTRITION

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.

Servings 1
Serving Weight 100 g (raw)
Calories 85
Protein 18.5 g
Fat, total 0.7 g
Saturated fatty acids, total 0.188 g
Carbohydrate 0 g
Sugars, total 0 g
Fiber, total dietary 0 g
Cholesterol 73 mg
Selenium 36.5 mcg
Sodium 88 mg

Mahimahi Table of Nutrition

 
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