Other Names: Amberjack, Hamachi, King Fish
Sustainable Fishing Methods: Hand Operated Pole and Line
Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Rating: Best Choice
Biological Information: California Yellowtail is a fast swimming fish that is easily identified by its striking yellow tail and brass colored stripe that runs down the entire length of its indigo colored body. They can grow to be 8 feet long and weigh up to 80 pounds. Yellowtail is considered to be a circumglobal species yet locally, they are commonly found off the coast of Baja California and range up to Los Angeles. They prefer temperate to tropical water temperatures where they can comfortably spawn. To begin the spawning process, the Yellowtail perform a courting ritual that lasts 30-90 minutes. The pair swim together with sudden bursts of speed and sudden midwater stalls while keeping in contact with each other’s bodies. The female then begins to swim in a circular fashion releasing her eggs while the male follows behind releasing his sperm. Yellowtail are carnivorous hunters who enjoy a diet of squid, anchovies and sardines. Due to their high speed they are mainly preyed upon by other fast swimmers, such as the Great White shark as well as Sea Lions. Yellowtail is delicious eaten raw as a sashimi as it has a high fat content giving the meat a rich and buttery texture. Yellowtail can also be cooked, which will turn the meat white and give it a firm texture with a sweet flavor.
Sustainability: California Yellowtail are caught using a hand operated pole and line or by spearfishing. These techniques are highly selective and very useful at eliminating bycatch as well as eliminating environmental damage and habitat destruction. Besides good catch methods, these fish reach maturity early in life, at about 3 years old and have a highly fecund, making them a great sustainable seafood option. The vast majority of fish in local restaurants and markets are caught by gill-net out of Mexico and results in high levels of by-catch suchy as sea turtles and a much lower quality product.