Opah is a large colorful pelagic fish that is often captured as a bycatch of tuna and swordfish fishing. The truly unique circular shape, large eye and striking reflective spotted bodies have led opah to be also called moonfish.
Opah live in deep waters during the day and come up to feed on squid and jellyfish at night. Prior to the 1980s, there was little commercial market for this unusual fish. In the South Pacific, fishermen believed catching an opah brought good luck, and would subsequently give the fish away to friends and family. In the late 1980s, the Hawaiians started promoting opah to build a market among U.S. consumers for the otherwise underutilized species. Today, there is much demand for opah’s rich, tasty meat, which is similar to tuna in color and flavor. One opah provides immense versatility with at least five usable and delicious cuts of meat. The opah’s dense flesh is rich and fatty, and generally a deep orange red behind the head and along the backbone, and fades to a light pink in the belly.
While almost all opah sold in the U.S. market are from Hawaii, this species is found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters and often taken as bycatch by long liners targeting tuna from New Zealand to California. When domestic supplies are low, the U.S. imports opah predominantly from Fiji, Tahiti, and New Zealand.
Year round, October to February primary months
Primary Product FormsLoins, Top Racks
Long Line and Drift Nets
Harvest Area:Northern California to the tip of the Baja Peninsula
Good (Click for more info)
Mild-Full depending on cross-section
Delicate-Firm depending on cross-section