Uku Fish


Like other Hawaiian snappers, Uku has pink flesh with delicately flavored, moist, and firm meat that’s delicious whether eaten raw (sashimi), baked or steamed, and even used as soup ingredients.

Fish caught year-round through jigging or trolling are an excellent source of extra lean protein, selenium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.


The Uku Fish (U. UK) is a deep-water species that feeds on crustaceans, smaller reef fish, squid, and other prey items like crustaceans. As opportunistic predators, they will consume whatever is available. Uku has also been observed preying upon larger fish (such as other Uku). Uku can be found throughout the oceans, lagoons, channels harbors, shallow and deep reefs, as well as benthopelagic waters; bottom fishermen commonly target this species when fishing these waters with stick baits or poppers while high-speed marlin lures have also been seen attacking these lures with great success!

Uku fish boasts clear, translucent pink flesh with a firm yet moist texture and subtle flavor, making it one of the most popular Hawaiian snapper species for sashimi. You can also serve it grilled, baked, steamed, poached, sauteed, or in soup, and its benefits include protein, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium and vitamin B6.

Protecting uku fish populations and employing responsible fishing methods are crucial. Many regions have put in place regulations to prevent overfishing. These include restrictions on size and seasonal/area closures of fishing. Furthermore, keeping captive uku fish requires providing them with clean and calm waters as they need various foods such as shrimp, squid, and other seafood to survive.

Although your fish inhabit small habitat ranges and grow slowly, they have remarkable resilience against natural or human-caused stressors. Unfortunately, overfishing and habitat destruction pose threats that you must contend with; to combat this, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council has developed an extensive conservation strategy that includes identifying essential fish habitat (EFH), monitoring catch levels, and decreasing interactions with protected species.

Environmental Fish Habitat (EFH) mapping is essential to the sustainable management of marine species such as Uku. To assist with this effort, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council has instituted a process that allows it to identify and refine EFH areas as new scientific information becomes available. Uku’s current EFH includes shallow coastal and nearshore waters in the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI), but for more accurate mapping, scientists used survey data and modeling approaches to estimate abundance within shallow MHI waters.


Uku fish inhabit reef habitats throughout the Indo-Pacific region, living among coral reefs. With their distinctive coloring helping them blend in with their surroundings and large eyes that enable them to see in low-light conditions, Uku fishes have large eyes with outward-facing pupils for improved vision in low-light environments. Their fins feature deep shades of blue hues. Their eyes also allow for outward-facing vision, allowing them to see surrounding coral reefs and nearby marine life.

This species is not endangered and can be found commercially and recreationally for fresh market sales in Hawaii. Uku is an excellent option for people who prefer locally caught seafood and are a popular target among recreational fishermen – to ensure sustainability; anglers must follow all applicable fishing regulations and utilize responsible catch practices to help ensure its population continues to increase and flourish.

These fishing regulations not only help to promote sustainability, but they also serve to safeguard uku fish habitat and other marine species. Some restrictions may include limits on how many fish can be caught at once or seasonal or area closures to prevent overfishing. It is also essential to practice responsible angling techniques – using barbless hooks and not targeting larger species such as sharks or groupers when fishing for larger species like these.

Fishery management is an evolving process, adapting to changes in population levels, fishing pressure, and environmental conditions. The Magnuson-Stevens Act mandates the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council to develop plans that ensure equitable access to resources while monitoring incidental capture rates to decrease interactions with protected species and identify essential fish habitat (EFH).

EFH refers to any aquatic habitat that provides shelter and sustenance for marine species, such as seagrass beds, mangrove forests, coral reefs, bays, wetlands, or rivers that connect directly to the ocean. It plays an essential part in managing fisheries while simultaneously serving as the foundation of healthy ecosystems.

Jigging, trolling, and fly fishing can all be employed to catch uku fish. Jigging involves dropping a heavy metal jig onto the ocean floor before quickly jerking it back and forth; this mimics wounded fish swimming away and attracts their attention. Trolling involves dragging lures or bait behind boats. These methods can be utilized recreationally and commercially by novice and experienced anglers alike.

Feeding habits

The Uku, also known as Green Jobfish or Gray Snapper, is a marine ray-finned species belonging to the family Lutjanidae found in Indo-Pacific waters and inhabiting various reef environments with depths from near surface up to 120 meters (390 feet). Recreationally and commercially popular among consumers alike, Uku fish has also been involved in several incidents of Ciguatera Poisoning.

As is common among reef predators, uku fish are opportunistic carnivores that feed on various prey, including small fish, crustaceans, and squid. They can often compete with more giant sharks to access this same food source in their natural habitat.

Uku fish in captivity may be fed various food, such as shrimp and squid. Their diet should meet their nutritional requirements without overfeeding, which could lead to weight gain and digestive issues.

This fish stands out with its distinct appearance: a vertical dark band running horizontally along its body, more evident in younger specimens. Younger fish also show this distinctive characteristic more readily; their eyes are large and outward facing to help them see better in low-light conditions; their skin has a dull blue-gray color on top, silvery white underneath, while their fins sport vibrant hues of blue.

Uku fish are easy to catch in Hawaii and can be detected using various techniques. One technique involves bottom fishing, where an angler drops a hook with a heavy sinker onto the ocean floor; another uses fly rod fishing with brightly-colored lures that draw in Uku fish.

Recent research investigated the stomach contents of seven commercially important West Java uku fish species (Alectis indica, Carangoides chrysophrys, Mene maculata, Johnius borneensis, Trichiurus lepturus and Upeneus asymmetricus). Their results show they each possess a diverse endoparasite community depending on their trophic level; Trichiurus lepturus and Upeneus asymmetricus have predominantly teleosts as diet, while Johnius borneensis and Mene maculata consist of mostly fish with some crustaceans or cephalopods present.


Uku fish features delicate pink flesh with delicate flavors that are rich, moist, and firm – perfect for sushi! They can also be prepared in various ways like baking, grilling, or sauteeing, making them great additions to soup!

The Uku, a tropical marine ray-finned fish from the Lutjanidae family, is the smallest snapper species found throughout Hawaii’s waters and the North Pacific Ocean, particularly around its Hawaiian Islands. Commercial and recreational fishermen regularly catch these fish; in fact, NMFS scientists have conducted studies for many years on its status, and an ongoing survey has confirmed this.

NMFS scientists have created a statistical model that uses diver survey data and fishery-independent stock assessment data to describe the current status of uku populations in Hawaii’s main islands. It demonstrated that the recent fishing effort is sustainable without overfishing. Furthermore, NMFS has introduced no overfishing management measures, nor are there plans to do so soon.

Uku is known for its distinct flavor and firm meat, but it also provides essential omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, its consumption helps lower saturated fat and sodium intake while delivering high amounts of potassium, vitamin B6, niacin, B12, and selenium.

Uku is one of Hawaii’s most beloved bottomfish species, precious among local consumers for its tasty taste and healthy attributes. However, some chefs and fishers say uku is often neglected or under-appreciated due to poor marketing and a lack of support facilities such as dockside fuel and ice availability. Now available in Lihue is a new facility that will offer these services, helping the uku fishery flourish through improved marketing support and dockside fuel and ice availability and providing flash freezer storage capacity as a marketplace for locally caught uku.