Ciguatera in Hawaiian Waters
This past weekend we went camping and my brother caught a type of fish called a Roi (Roy). This type of fish is known to have Ciguatera; so should we eat it or throw it back? What is Ciguatera and what can we do to prevent it?
Ciguatera is a foodborne illness poisoning in humans caused by eating marine species whose flesh is contaminated with a toxin known as ciguatoxin, that is present in many micro-organisms living in tropical waters. Many species and families of reef fish can be involved in ciguatera poisoning. Families include moray eels, red snappers, groupers, coral trout, coral cod, emperors, tuna-like fishes, jacks or trevallies and barracudas.
On the Big Island, ciguatera is found anywhere from North Kohala down to Milolii. This is in the area of presistent ciguatera outbreaks during the months of January through March.
Ciguatoxic fish cannot be detected by appearance, taste or smell. Raw and cooked whole fish, fillets or parts have no signs of spoilage, discoloration or deterioration.
Prevention is most effective by not eating these fish. You can buy a test kit at the store for $30 and you can test 5 fish. If it's not contaminated eat it, if it is...trash it. FYI, we throw the Roi back.
(MAP: The blue is low risk of ciguatera and the red is high rish.) As you can see, Hawaii is high risk.