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Huge ahi harvest for Big Island fishermen

  • FILE - In this May 12

HILO >> Big Island fishermen have been hauling in unusually large amounts of yellowfin tuna for this time of year.

“We’re on a huge ahi run now,” said Kyle Sumner, the fish division manager at Suisan Co., told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald on Monday.

“We’re seeing some pretty ridiculous amounts. … Regularly in the winter time we’re not seeing a lot of big yellowfin coming up,” he said.

The Hilo fish market has been buying two to three times as much big ahi as it usually does during this season. The influx has driven ahi prices down to $6.99 a pound Monday, but Sumner expected sashimi and poke prices would be set at $7.99 Tuesday.

Normal prices this time of year are around $15 a pound for poke and $20 a pound for sashimi, Sumner said. Most of the ahi sashimi would be smaller bigeye tuna, around 30 or 40 pounds apiece.

Single boats launching from Pohoiki boat ramp have been going out over the last week and coming back with between five and 25 yellowfin, averaging 195 pounds apiece, he said.

“One gentleman dropped off 22 yellowfin, totaling 4,200 pounds, a few days ago,” Sumner said.

Raymond Kawamoto, who has been fishing in Hawaii since the 1960s, said Monday that the current ahi run is the best he’s seen since the 1980s.

He credited the ocean currents.

“When the current hits Hawaii, it brings the bait that the ahi are chasing,” Kawamoto said.

He added that it’s a rare occurrence that must be taken advantage of quickly.

“It can just stop tomorrow. You never know,” Okamoto said. “If the current changes, it’s all over.”

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