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The History and Benefits of Longline Fishing in Hawaii

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Since the 80s, longline fishing has been the most popular method to catch premium quality bigeye tuna and other fish. While well known by fishermen and fisheries, how did longline fishing begin and what are the benefits of using it for fishing in Hawaii?

History of Longline Fishing

Longline fishing began in 1917 when Japanese immigrants began using “flagline” fishing in Hawaii. This technique involved using a mainline with tarred rope placed horizontally in the water with numerous leaders and hooks. The line had multiple floats with flags attached to notify the fishermen of a catch. The boats used were wooden and built by Japanese boat makers in Hawaii. The typical bait used for flagline fishing was opelu, or mackerel scad. After World War II, steel hull vessels were used in place of the wooden boats, monofilament line replaced the ropes and hydraulic-powered reels were used for longline fishing.

Benefits of Longline Fishing

We always strive for the freshest seafood and believe that fish that are caught by longline are less stressed and taste better. Another benefit of longline is that the process is more energy efficient and creates less seabed disruption. Scientific studies have proven that fish caught on a longline have a significant improvement on color, texture, smell and creates firmer fillets. The higher quality fish is due to less compression damage and less blood loss due to quicker harvest times. Trawler fishing uses more energy and produces much more greenhouse gas emissions than longline fishing does. Longline fishing also is less disruptive for the natural habitat of fish versus trawling which can significantly damage sea beds. In addition to all of these benefits, longline fishing also helps reduce unwanted catches too.

Longline fishing produces better tasting fish, is better for the environment and is helps keep fish habitats intact. The next time you have the choice, purchase fish caught using longline fishing.

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