The biggest ever caught by a single trawler in the Western Pacific was a rare species of fish, the Pacific eagle claw, with a catch of 1,100 tonnes.
The fish was caught in April this year off the island of Oahu, and is the largest ever caught of its kind, said the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
“We have seen a lot of these fish in the last couple of years, but this is the first time we have seen one in a really, really large size,” said Mike Ehrlich, the marine fisheries supervisor for the BOM.
The Pacific eagle crescentfish (Paceurus spp.) is a tiny, slow-growing, slow swimmer with a long, thin body, and its fins are sharp, with four distinct spikes.
It is also known as the Pacific white crescent fish, and has a distinctive “saddle” at the end of its tail.
A fish caught by the Bomm was also among the most rare, with just six species recorded being caught in total, according to the BAM.
Its capture also makes it the largest fish caught at the time of the trawling.
“This is one of the rarest fish ever caught,” said Chris Brown, the Boma Aquaculture director at the Pacific Northwest Aquarium.
“It’s one of those rare fish that, when caught, will not survive in the wild, so it’s really important for aquaculture to capture and study these fish so that we can understand how to breed them, so we can breed them to produce larger fish that we know will survive.”
Pacific eagle claw is a small fish with a large dorsal fin, a white tail and two black spots, the size of a small grain of rice.
It feeds on small, small fish, particularly tuna, tuna catfish and salmon, with most being caught by trawlers.
The trawliner, named Pacific Eagle Claw, is in the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet.
“The Pacific Eagle claw fish is the only species of Pacific eagle fish that is native to Hawaii, the United States, and the Pacific,” said Lt Col Joe Kallen, a Boma spokesperson.
“Its distinctive white belly and black spots are extremely unusual for a Pacific eagle.”
Because of its size, the species is also an excellent source of protein and nutrients for the Hawaiian ecosystem.
“Pacific Eagle Claw is one the largest Pacific eagle rays ever caught, with catch numbers of 1.1 tonnes.
In a separate report released earlier this month, the World Wildlife Fund said the Pacific Eagle crescent has also become one of Hawaii’s most endangered species, with 1,200 of its 1,600 recorded individuals listed as endangered.
The Boma Pacific Eagle fishing program is part of the US Marine Conservation Service’s Pacific Fisheries Management Program, which aims to help sustain the health and recovery of the Pacific ecosystem.