- Ocean perch
- Sea Bass
- Turbot (Greenland)
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Kinkfish, Peto, Guarapucu, Ono, Thazard Batard
U.S. wild-caught from Hawaii, U.S. Pacific
Island territories, and on the high seas
- FISHING RATE
- HABITAT IMPACTS
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Measuring the length of a wahoo.LAUNCH GALLERY
A cousin of mackerel, wahoo is found in warm oceans around the world. In the Pacific, they’re harvested as non-target catch in troll and longline fisheries targeting tunas based out of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and Saipan. Most of the wahoo in the U.S. market comes from Hawaii, where the fish is nicknamed “Ono,” the Hawaiian word for “delicious.” A small amount of wahoo is harvested in U.S. fisheries along the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico.
No regulations currently apply to wahoo specifically – their biology makes them resilient to fishing pressure and catch trends have so far indicated that regulations are not yet necessary. However, several regulations are in place to reduce the impact of troll and longline fisheries on other species, and the fisheries are monitored through logbooks, observer coverage (longline fishery), port sampling, and landing receipts.
LOCATION & HABITAT
Wahoo are found near the surface in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. Wahoo live in tropical waters year-round but are also found in higher latitudes during the summer. They’re frequently found alone or in small, loosely connected groups rather than in compact schools. They’re also often found near banks, pinnacles, and flotsam (natural debris drifting in the ocean).
Wahoo grow fast, up to 8 feet and 158 pounds, and have a short life span, up to 9 years. Males are able to reproduce when they reach 2.8 feet in length; females sexually mature when they reach 3.3 feet. They’re usually about a year old at this size. Wahoo spawn year-round in tropical waters and during the summer in higher latitudes, including Hawaii. Individual wahoo spawn multiple times throughout the spawning season. They’re very productive, releasing millions of eggs per year to compensate for eggs that might not survive to adulthood.
Wahoo mainly feed on fish, including frigate mackerel, butterfish, porcupine fish, and round herring. They generally compete with tuna for the same kind of food. Scientists have theorized that wahoo is able to eat fish larger than itself by using its sharp teeth to render large prey into bite-size pieces. A number of predators that share the wahoo’s habitat feed on young wahoo.
Wahoo are steel blue above and pale blue below. They’re covered with small scales and have a series of 25 to 30 irregular blackish-blue vertical bars on their sides. Wahoo have large mouths with strong, triangular, compressed and finely serrated teeth. Their snouts are about as long as the rest of their heads. Although they can reach 8 feet in length, wahoo are commonly between 3.3 and 5.4 feet long.
Scientists do not formally assess wahoo populations.
Pacific wahoo populations have not been formally assessed since 1999. Currently, scientists assume wahoo populations to be stable because wahoo are highly productive and widely distributed throughout tropical/subtropical Pacific.
U.S. commercial fishermen harvest wahoo incidentally in troll and longline fisheries that target tunas. Trolling involves towing lines with bait or lures and hooks behind a vessel. Fishing lines are rigged to outriggers, or trolling poles, which are deployed at about a 45 degrees angle from the sea surface. Pelagic longline gear consists of a main horizontal line supporting shorter lines with baited hooks. The gear is used at various depths and at different times of day, depending on the species being targeted.
Who’s in charge? NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific and Western Pacific Fishery Management Council.
Pacific Islands: Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific.
No management measures specifically apply to wahoo because catch trends have indicated regulations are not yet necessary. However, management measures apply to the troll and longline fisheries that incidentally harvest wahoo.
- Commercial fishermen must have a permit and must maintain logbooks documenting their catch. A limited number of permits are available for the Hawaii and American Samoa-based longline fisheries to control the number of vessels allowed to fish.
- Gear restrictions and operational requirements to minimize bycatch.
- Longlines are prohibited in certain areas to protect endangered Hawaiian monk seals, reduce potential gear conflicts, and prevent localized stock depletion (when a large quantity of fish are removed from an area); longliners must carry vessel monitoring systems (VMS), which are satellite transponders that provide real-time position updates and track vessel movements to enforce these area closures.
- Hawaii and American Samoa-based longline vessels must carry onboard observers when requested by NOAA Fisheries, in part, to record any interactions with sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals.
- Mandatory annual protected species workshops for all longline vessel owners and operators.
West Coast: Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species.
Wahoo is also included in this plan as a monitored species. Wahoo is occasionally caught as part of another fishery’s non-target catch and is monitored on a consistent and routine basis.
In 2011, Hawaii fishermen harvested more than 560,000 pounds of wahoo. American Samoa fishermen harvested more than 270,000 pounds in 2011. Market size for this fish ranges from 8 to 30 pounds.
Hawaii supplies the majority of wahoo in the U.S. market, and 2011 landings were valued at almost 2 million dollars. 2011 landings from American Samoa were worth more than $240,000.
Wahoo is a popular fish among recreational fishermen.
Wahoo is a lean, mild-tasting fish. Their meat is firm with a large, circular flake. A close relative of king mackerel, wahoo’s meat is lighter in color and has less of the red muscle meat. Wahoo’s pale pink meat turns white when cooked. (Seafood Business, 2011)
Year-round, with peaks during summer and fall.
Wahoo is an excellent source of low-fat protein.
|Serving Weight||100 g (raw)|
|Fat, total||9.36 g|
|Saturated fatty acids, total||2.444 g|
|Sugars, total||0 g|
|Fiber, total dietary||0 g|
Pacific Wahoo Table of Nutrition