Honolulu Fish Co.’s fearless leader and owner Wayne Samiere was recently interviewed by SeafoodSource.com for their Seafood Business Insider column. Here he shared a bit about his background as a marine biologist, Honolulu Fish Co.’s history, and business advice and challenges.
More specifically – he highlighted the growing interest in non-targeted species and HFC’s sustainability efforts over the years to promote underappreciated fish:
During my years in biology, I studied entire fish communities’ structures. I developed a great sense of the importance of habitat and how the presence or absence of one species in a community structure affects other species. Before sustainability was in the forefront, I set forth my own set of harvesting ethics that we were going to abide by as a company.
My experience in biology also gave me a great sense of value for the many creatures captured in commercial fishing that are not targeted only because they are not well-known by the public. Early on we set a course to focus on markets for the non-targeted fish. Fifty percent of our sales are for fish that are not in the top 10 most-popular species.
Never forget that lobster was once a lowly product sold as pet food and fed to prisoners. That was a long time ago before people knew about lobster and there was very little demand for lobster.
Maybe the greatest opportunity before us is with the fish that come off the boat that we don’t want because people don’t want it. Customers don’t want what they don’t know. Somewhere along the way a long time ago people became aware of lobster and the demand grew. There could be a gold mine in that ugly sculpin that you look down on or that scraggly rattail that gets tossed across the deck.
There are only two places that the general public gets to know seafood items. One is on a menu at a restaurant; the other is a retail display case at a grocery store. I think we can find more ways to use these two viewpoints to promote the lesser-known species.