HONOLULU (KHON2) — High demand is driving up the price of ahi. People can expect to pay almost double for a pound of poke.

It is is the opposite problem fish markets experienced last year at the start of the pandemic, when there were not enough buyers for all of the fresh catch. Now, there are too many buyers and not enough of fish.

Tamashiro Market’s Vice President Guy Tamashiro is buying less fish because he knows the daily catch will not sell as fast with current high prices.

Tamashiro said, “Night and day, totally different story last year prices was so rock bottom.”

Now prices are sky high. United Fishing Agency Auction Manager Michael Goto said part of what is driving the prices is demand for fish from resorts, restaurants and visitors.

On top of that, fishing boats are returning with a smaller catch these days.

“The lack of local supply” Goto said. “The lack of foreign supply and the high demand itself. Those are the three factors that really have taken the market price to this kind of unforeseen level.” 

A pound of fresh poke is running about $25 per pound at certain markets. If the price for ahi is too high, places like Nico’s will stop selling it.

“Which is what we did in the last two days,” Nico’s Pier 38 owner Nico Chaize said. “We replaced it with Salmon. Salmon is cheaper than ahi right now.”

Displays inside Nico’s are usually filled with a variety of fish fillets, but on Monday they sat empty.

Chaize said, “It’s not like there’s no fish coming in. But the price is so high it doesn’t make sense to put it on the display. Nobody will buy fish for $50 or $60 a pound.”

Tamashiro said some customers have asked about the current prices. He tries to explain to them that the rise in prices are due to high demand and low supply. He hopes there is a larger catch next week when more boats return.

Tamashiro said, “I try to explain the situation, and some of them understand the problem. Some of them are sticker shock.I mean that’s just the way it is right now.”

Although the high price did not stop the busy lunch rush for poke.