Transforming Hawaii’s invasive ‘rubbish fish” Into Gourmet Meals

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Chivas or “Chevy” is from the YouTube channel popularly known as “FishNGrillz.” The channel’s content centers on food sustainability in Hawaii. They demonstrate how to catch and cook less desirable fish that locals call “Rubbish Fish”, or fish that has vast abundance but hold little to no market value.

“Invasivorism,” or eating invasive species as a means to control or eliminate their numbers, is a popular tool being utilized by restaurants and local fisherman interested in food sustainability in their communities. Turning invasive species into gourmet meals could blunt environmental and economic costs across the country.

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“We use different ingredients and cooking styles to accentuate the best qualities so the audience will have a new perspective of undesirable fish.”

Chevy of FishNGrillz

One example is the Roi, otherwise known as the Peacock Grouper. These invasive fish were originally introduced in the 1950’s from French Polynesia in the hopes of creating more diversity in our reefs. Unfortunately, the impact of these predatory fish wreak havoc on the Hawaiian reef ecosystem. The Roi prey on our native species consuming them by the thousands. With no natural predators, they multiply rapidly and overtake the reefs.

To make matters worse for the Roi’s reputation, there was a spike in Ciguatera cases in the early 2000’s linked to the Roi. Ciguatera fish poisoning (or ciguatera) is an illness caused by eating fish that contain toxins produced by a marine microalgae called Gambierdiscus toxicus. People who have ciguatera may experience nausea, vomiting, and neurologic symptoms such as tingling fingers or toes. This stigma has caused consumers and fishermen to be weary of of the Roi.

But over the last 20 years, the number of Roi related Ciguatera cases have significantly dropped. Recent studies have shown findings of Cig in other species such as the Ulua and Kole.

“In our own experiences, we found that any fish is capable of carrying the toxin as it is more present in certain areas. For example, in Oahu the fish that are sourced from Reef Runway have been known to have higher rates of contamination,” said Chevy. “On a recent trip to Kauai, we were informed that the Northern facing shores surrounding Princeville had some of the highest concentrations of Cig. During an episode featuring some locally sourced fish from that area; kalas and koles, we were infected with the toxin. Both varieties of these fish are classified as herbivores, thus confirming that the microalgae in the area had been tainted.”

Today, the Roi is still infamously associated with Ciguatera. But the prized Ulua or Kole pose the same threat.

“The risk is ultimately up to the consumer,” said Chevy.

FishNGrillz is working to alleviate the stigma behind the Roi. Their content on youtube showcase the versatility that this fish possesses.

Chevy describes the Roi as “rich and savory with a flaky texture…delicious… and ideal to work with.”

VIDEO – Peacock Grouper (Roi) Catch and Cook Spearfishing Hawaii- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANQrpuc1P7s&t=20s

FishNGrill is part of Hawaii Creators Collective, a network of Hawaii content creators working together to strengthen Hawaii’s community and ecosystem for the future of Hawaii.

FishNGrills on Social Media:

Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/fishngrillz

Youtube- https://www.youtube.com/@FishNGrillz

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/FishNGrillz

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