CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
While yesterday's fish catch was characterized as "great" by United Fishing Agency Assistant Manager Brooks Takenaka, high demand and low supply could still drive up prices of fresh fish for New Year's celebrations. Here, Sione Cocker weighed ahi at Tamashiro Market on Saturday.
Fish prices skyrocket as supply remains low
Whether prices are to drop slightly will depend on the catch coming in today
As Hawaii residents gather for the first time to celebrate their New Year's watching the University of Hawaii Warriors play in a major bowl game, they could be missing a longtime local tradition: fresh sashimi and fish.
Prices for this year's fresh fish have skyrocketed, said Brooks Takenaka, assistant manager for United Fishing Agency, largely because of a high demand and a low supply from rough sea conditions last week.
"The fish catch today was great," Takenaka said yesterday of the 100,000 pounds brought in. "But because of those days prior when there weren't any catch, that basically put everyone into a back-draft situation, so they're trying to catch up."
Guy Tamashiro of Tamashiro Fish Market said there should be enough ahi for New Year's, but warned buyers to go early because this year's demand seems to be higher than previous years' with a much shorter supply.
Typically, most supermarkets and fish markets sell sashimi for about $10 a pound for the lower-grade ahi and $30 for the best quality. This year, however, customers could see higher prices depending on today's catch. Tamashiro said if the catch today is about the same as yesterday's, there could be another slight drop in prices.
"There's going to be a lot of poke and sashimi," Takenaka said. "A lot of people also wanted to serve steamed fish; unfortunately, they won't be able to do that."
But some customers have shown they will pay any price for fish during this time of the year.
Yesterday, Takenaka said one person bought three pounds of onaga, a popular bottom fish, for a shocking price of $50 a pound.
"This is incredible," Takenaka said. "It's an historic high. I never even imagined that someone would pay that kind of money for a fish."