LAHAINA - Thirty-seven teams with 74 divers caught nearly 300 invasive species of fish Sunday during a "roi roundup" off West Maui.
The spearfishing event targeted species of roi (peacock grouper), toau (blacktail snapper) and taape (blue-line snapper), which are introduced species of fish that prey on indigenous reef fish. The first roi roundup was held in 2008. Since then, the event has spread to Oahu, Kauai, Molokai and the Big Island.
Event organizers said a single roi can eat as many as 146 fish a year, and the species is known to have a high risk of carrying the ciguatera toxin, which can make some people seriously ill.
County of Maui photo
Fisherman Rob Fujimoto unloads his catch of invasive species Sunday in Lahaina. Seventy-four divers caught 271 predator fish, including 254 roi, 12 taape and five toau. The introduced fish prey on indigenous reef fish.
Event organizers reported that out of 271 fish caught, 254 were roi, 12 taape and five toau.
They estimated the haul of fish predators could have consumed nearly 40,000 indigenous reef fish.
Awards were handed out in various contest categories, including:
* Most fish - Dean Kawamura and Bryan Nakamoto (31 fish), first place; Rob Fujimoto and Demetrius Xenos (29 fish), second place; Kaulana Kaaa and Mark Riglos (27 fish), third place.
* Most toau - George Rivera and Lyndon Honda.
* Most taape - Dana HueSing and Brandon Lee.
* Largest roi - Bobby Twitchell.
* Smallest roi - Chad Quedding.
All roi weighing more than 1 pound were donated to ciguatera research at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The remaining fish were given to an organic farmer who will compost them for fertilizer.
Members of the Maui Roi Round-up Committee were: Brian and Janice Yoshikawa, Darrell and Jackie Tanaka, Stuart Funke-d'Egnuff, Kuhea Paracuelles and Mayor Charmaine Tavares.
The event was sponsored by the Office of the Mayor, Maui Sporting Goods, Hard Rock Cafe, ProPark Inc., Barnes & Noble, Maui Brewing Co. and other local businesses.