In the only event of its sort in the U.S., up to 100,000 pounds of tuna are unloaded from boats and auctioned off on Honolulu’s Pier 38 six mornings a week.
Long before the sun rises, a vessel pulls up to the pier to unload its catch of ahi. Hawaii’s longline fleet has extended its season by purchasing some of the fishing rights of Pacific island nations, guaranteeing a steady flow of fish through the holiday season.
The United Fishing Agency’s Wilbur Caliri, right, receives a load of ahi from a fisherman to be sold at auction — a morning ritual in Honolulu since 1952.
Inside the auction room, Nelson Aberilla of the United Fishing Agency inspects the ahi for quality. Samples are cut from the tail of each fish for inspection by potential bidders.
Auctioneer Harry Tuimaseve rings a bell at 5:30 a.m. to signal the beginning of the auction. By then, wholesale, retail and restaurant buyers have already been inspecting the fish for sale.
Buyers gather around rows of ahi to inspect the product and prepare for an auctioneer’s arrival.
Auctioneer Michael Goto, right, calls the bids. Higher-quality ahi command the highest prices and the competitive open bidding process continues until every fish is sold.
As bidders move up and down each row, purchased fish are removed and replaced constantly.
The buyers continue to inspect the ahi so that they’re ready to place bids when the time comes.
Inspection of the samples plays a key role in the bidding.
The ahi journey continues as fish just sold at auction are loaded into trucks for transport to their final destinations.
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