Thursday, October 8, 2015

A call for sustainability awareness during Hawaii Seafood Month

Nadine Kam photos
I knew there was a reason I snapped this photo when I was at Paradise Seafood & Gourmet Market over the weekend. It's National Seafood Month and Hawaii Seafood Month, and the market specializes in offering the kind of fish, like the yellow taape, that are typically ignored by consumers.


Hawaii’s well-being is tied to the health of the ocean surrounding us. The ocean sustains us in many ways, from providing food and healing, to relaxation and recreation, and for some, a steady income.

But the economics of development on land and overexploitation of ocean resources has put stress on marine ecosystems, leaving the sustainability of global fisheries in question. Add to that a killoff of microscopic marine life with the advance of global warming, and it’s easy to foresee a day when we will no longer have seafood for our tables.

I can almost hear vegans and animal rights activists crying, “Yes! Just stop eating fish!”

But the reality is that with the global population set to increase 4 billion to 11 billion by 2050, how is the planet going to feed that many mouths? In this case, I don’t think kale and amaranth are the answers.

Hawaii Seafood Month is a statewide campaign in conjunction with National Seafood Month, to raise awareness of sustainability issues and food self-sufficiency.

The campaign had its Oct. 7 launch at MW Restaurant, one of several restaurant, supermarket and retail partners offering sustainably harvested, locally produced seafood to minimize the impact on overfished species and ecological systems, and help ensure future supplies.

From left, MW chef Wade Ueoka, United Fishing Agency assistant general manager Brooks Takenaka, and chef Lee Anne Wong of Koko Head Cafe and Hale Ohuna, have time to relax after guests at the Hawaii Seafood Month launch party have all been fed.

Visit and click on the “Partners” tab to see its links to, which tracks seafood by code to offer information on when, where and how your fish was caught, as well as special offers continuing through the end of October.

For instance, at Grondin: French Latin Kitchen, a portion of sales of a daily fresh local catch special will go to the Hawaii Seafood Council to help in its mission. Recently, opelu on its menu was harvested on the Miloli’i Fishing Grounds, South Kona.

Consumers can also do their part by choosing less popular, but abundant species of fish. Visit to learn about Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and download a Hawaii Seafood Watch guide to restaurant and sushi bar “Best Choices,” “Alternatives” and seafood to “Avoid.”

Ueoka's contribution to the Hawaii Seafood Month kickoff was amaebi with pickled Hamakua eryngi, nagaimo and wasabi mashed potato, and below, smoked opah with Kahuku sea asparagus, tomato and onion.

Kampachi crudo with beet sauce and avocado (hidden under the fish) made a nice starter for the evening, served up by chef Lee Anne Wong.

 Pili Group and Mission Social Hall & Cafe chef Mark Noguchi offered up Samoan crab dip and ulu chips. The crab was fished out of He’eia Fishpond, where it is considered an invasive species. The stomach don’t know that. I grew up in Waipahu fishing the crabs out of West Loch. Now I have to wonder, was I eating out of polluted water? That area is now fenced off.

Wong also presented a cured opelu fritter over luau and coconut milk accented with chili pepper water, with paiai “croutons” that we first assumed—this being Hawaii—was Spam. Though in keeping with the evening’s message, Spam might be considered an introduced species, and therefore, not to be used on such an occasion.

Noguchi’s he’e was a favorite at my table, the octopus made tender with a 45-minute pounding that paid off for the diner. With that kind of workout who needs a gym?

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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