At the United Fishing Agency fish auction in Kakaako yesterday morning, mahimahi were iced in preparation for bidding.

over fish

Retailers expect an adequate
supply of ahi for New Year's

Fishmongers say fishermen are hauling in a good supply of fresh ahi for New Year's sashimi.

"So far, the prices are holding pretty steady, and the price is pretty good," said Don Leong, owner of wholesaler Wing Sing Seafood. "We haven't seen a big jump from previous years."

Leong added that weather and other factors may contribute to the size of catches, which would result in a fluctuation in price.

For some New Year's celebrations, sashimi is an essential. In Hawaii the traditional Japanese dish of sliced raw fish means premium-grade ahi.

Wholesale prices for No. 1-grade ahi ranged from $6.95 to $12.95 a pound yesterday, and retail prices were between $15 and $19 in Chinatown yesterday, Leong said.

"Looks pretty good this year," said Glenn Tanoue, president of wholesaler Tropic Fish & Vegetable Supply Center Inc.

Ahi tagged at the auction.

Tanoue predicted yesterday that retail ahi prices in the coming days will range "in the teens and a few in the $20 range."

At Honolulu supermarkets yesterday, prices for top-grade sashimi blocks ranged from $16.99 to $22.99 a pound, and untrimmed chunks of ahi were selling for $9.99 to $13.49 a pound.

Masa & Joyce Fish Market in Kaneohe was selling ahi at $15.95 a pound yesterday. Around Christmastime, when ahi is also in high demand, the market's price was about $19.50 a pound.

Manager Cynthia Tobaru predicted that the price will be about the same on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

"Depends on the market," she said. "Masa goes to the auction block in the morning and bids on the fish. It depends on the supply and quality of the fish. The prices can go up or remain about the same.

"It doesn't seem to be in as short supply as other years have been," she said.

Tobaru said the quality of ahi varies, but her father, Masa Tobaru, a second-generation fisherman from Okinawa, "has an eye for fish, so we have a very good grade."


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