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Pacific Mahimahi

Coryphaena hippurus

Pacific MahiMahi

Also Known As

  • Dolphinfish
  • Dorado

U.S. wild-caught mahimahi is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.

Population

The population level is unknown, but presumed stable.

Fishing Rate

At recommended level.

Habitat Impacts

Fishing gear used to catch mahimahi rarely contacts the ocean floor and has minimal impacts on habitat.

Bycatch

Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch in the tuna and swordfish fisheries that incidentally catch the most commercially available mahimahi.

  • Availability

    Year-round.

  • Source

    U.S. wild-caught from Hawaii, California, U.S. Pacific Island territories, and on the high seas.

  • Taste

    Mahimahi has a sweet, mild flavor. For a milder flavor, trim away the darker portions of the meat.

  • Texture

    Mahimahi is lean and fairly firm with large, moist flakes.

  • Color

    The raw flesh is pinkish to grayish-white, although along the lateral line the flesh is dark. When cooked, the meat is off-white.

  • Health Benefits

    Mahimahi is low in saturated fat and is a good source of vitamin B12, phosphorus, potassium, protein, niacin, vitamin B6, and selenium.

The U.S. Fishery

Fishery Management

Harvest

  • Commercial fishery:
    • U.S. commercial fisheries in the western and central Pacific harvest the majority of U.S. mahimahi.
    • In 2016, commercial landings of Pacific mahimahi harvested from the U.S. Pacific Islands totaled 1.2 million pounds and were valued at more than $4.5 million. The majority of the catch comes from Hawaii.
    • In 2016, commercial landings of Pacific mahimahi on the U.S. West Coast totaled more than 44,000 pounds and were valued at approximately $77,000.
  • Gear types, habitat impacts, and bycatch:
    • Most mahimahi are harvested using troll and handlines. Mahimahi may also be caught incidentally in pelagic longline fisheries for tuna and swordfish.
    • The amount of bycatch associated with the mahimahi fishery varies. U.S. pelagic longline fishermen, who target tuna and swordfish and who may incidentally catch mahimahi, are required to use specific tools and handling techniques to mitigate bycatch of turtles and marine mammals.
    • Fishing gear used to catch mahimahi rarely contacts the seafloor so habitat impacts are minimal.
    • Time-area closures also limit and prevent interactions between pelagic longline gear and non-target species.
    • Onboard observers are required in some fisheries to record any interactions with sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals.
  • Recreational fishery:
    • Pacific mahimahi are a popular recreational fish.

The Science

Population Status

  • Although the population is not formally assessed, scientists assume mahimahi populations are stable because the species is highly productive and widely distributed throughout the tropical/subtropical Pacific. 
  • Pacific mahimahi’s overfishing status is unknown.
  • Mahimahi can handle relatively high fishing rates, but precautionary management seeks to maintain current harvest levels.

Location

  • Pacific mahimahi are found in the Pacific and Western Pacific and are caught from California to Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific Island territories.
  • Most of the U.S. commercial harvest of Pacific mahimahi comes from Hawaii.

Habitat

  • Pacific mahimahi live near the surface in tropical and subtropical waters around the world.
  • They swim together in schools as juveniles, but older fish are usually found alone.
  • They travel seasonally as adults with changes in water temperature.

Physical Description

  • Brightly colored back is an electric greenish blue, lower body is gold or sparkling silver, and sides have a mixture of dark and lights spots.
  • Bright pattern fades almost immediately after mahimahi is harvested.
  • Distinguished from the pompano dolphin by the number of dorsal fin rays and a very wide, square tooth patch on the tongue.

Biology

  • Pacific mahimahi grow fast, up to 7 feet and 88 pounds.
  • They live up to 5 years.
  • They are capable of reproducing at 4 to 5 months old.
  • They are believed to spawn every 2 to 3 days throughout their entire spawning season (perhaps year-round), releasing 33,000 to 66,000 eggs each time.
  • Pacific mahimahi are top predators that feed in surface waters during the day.
  • They eat a wide variety of species, including small pelagic fish, juvenile tuna, invertebrates, billfish, jacks, pompano, and pelagic larvae or nearshore, bottom-living species.
  • Predators include large tuna, marine mammals, marlin, sailfish, and swordfish.

Last updated: 03/02/2018