October 29, 2020 — As this year’s bottomfish fishery-independent survey comes to a close, the fishermen participating in the survey have met the challenges of the pandemic to once again produce an incredibly robust data set. The bottomfish caught during the survey which are highly prized by local community are normally provided as bio-samples to the life history staff at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center for use in the fishery stock assessment, but only the otoliths (bones in the ears that can be used to determine age) and the gonads are all that is necessary for analysis while the fillets are discarded. In an effort to give back to the community in some small way, Lynker has piloted a program to donate the fillets from bottomfish bio-samples to help feed the local community, which has become a case study in ‘ohana’.
Photos abovve: Ashley Watts (Local I’a) and Ka’iulani Odom (KKV) with the donated bottomfish fillets (left), Ashley Watts holds a donated Opakapaka while Rodel processes the donated fish (right).
Our first bottomfish donation (about 20 lbs of mixed opakapaka, ehu, kalekale and hapu’upu’u fillets) was caught on Nathan Abe’s boat, Ride On, while surveying off of the Big Island. The fish were shipped to Oahu, and delivered to Ashley Watts, owner of the sustainable seafood distribution non-profit, Local I’a (Local I’a | Community Supported Fishery | Hawaii). Ashley’s fish cutter, Rodel, then filleted the fish at the commercial kitchen Ashley shares with Ed Kenny’s (Ed Kenney) Mud Hen Water restaurant and donated to Ka’iulani Odom, program manager for Kokua Kalihi Valley which provides meals and organic produce to local at-risk seniors (among many other groups).
This level of cooperation serves as a reminder of the connectedness of communities in the Islands, and that we really are “all in this together”. Many thanks to the cooperative research fishers, the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center’s lead, Ben Richards, and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Group’s Clay Tam for supporting this pilot as well as Local I’a and Kokua Kalihi Valley for their inspirational commitment to the community.