Hawaii’s fishing industry faces lasting impacts as pandemic drags on

Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 10:29 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With restaurants and hotels shut down, Hawaii is seeing a shortage of fish that is impacting the price of popular products like ahi and could have lasting effects on the industry.

“The boots are going out on fewer trips. They are carrying a lot less weight than usual because of all that’s happening,” said Long Tran, as he watched a load of tuna come off the boat Tuesday morning at Pier 38.

Tran buys fish for Poke by the Pound and says the price fluctuates naturally with the seasons.

He said the pandemic will likely have lasting consequences for the industry.

Ultimately, those changes will affect his bottom line.

“The fish is going to continue to be in shortage, but we will be running in the red all the time, so we will basically have to call our fish vendors out to do what they can for us," Tran said.

Fresh Island Fish owns their own vessels and their fish goes directly to their plant. That product goes straight to the restaurants and to the customers.

In early July, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced a plan to help the state’s struggling fishing industry. The “Fish to Dish” program aimed to distribute nearly 350,000 fish portions to Oahu families over the course of five months.

The city is paying for it with more than $2.6 million from the Coronavirus Relief Act. The funding is expected to cover 28 vessel landings per week, lasting until the early fall.

Part of the program was also to support buyers like Poke by the Pound’s Long Tran who says he has applied for the assistance but hasn’t heard back just yet.

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