Are Pacific Mahi Populations at Risk?

A scientific overview points out how little we know about mahi stocks.

June 13, 2013

No billfish or tuna around? Well, at least there will always be mahi.

Or will there?

Mahi seem to be taken for granted, particularly in the Pacific.


But an organization known as the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership has released an overview of Pacific mahi that calls into question just how healthy stocks of that iconic blue-water game fish are, noting that mahi are caught on longlines and taken in purse seines, whether directed or as bycatch.

I have seen purse seiners’ nets off Ecuador stuffed with thousands of mahi (the intended catch, targeted and not taken incidentally), and can easily imagine that despite the species’ well-known and astounding rate of growth, it could be undergoing overfishing.

Sadly, mahi really have no international champion, and even regional management organizations are mostly concerned with the big-money fish (read: tuna).


I’m not aware of any organization assessing mahi in the Pacific in the way that the Dolphinfish Research Program does in western Atlantic waters.

Interestingly, the SFP overview recommends commercial mahi buyers in the Pacific encourage management authorities to invest in mahi research and stock assessments. Much as such research is needed, I have trouble imagining this happening on a scale that would really make a difference.

As a nomadic pelagic, the mahi is not a species that encourages many management agencies to focus on it, particularly since its populations range so widely over national and regional waters.


So I have to keep wondering: Will there always be mahi in the Pacific? As an angler (who voted the species as his very favorite in SF’s Top 100 Game Fish), I can only hope so.

Pacific mahi, a.k.a. dorado, dolphin, dolphinfish Doug Olander / Sport Fishing Magazine

More Uncategorized