Invasive Roi in Hawaii: What should be done?

Presented as part of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s Know Your Ocean Speaker Series

Photo by Keoki Stender

Perhaps you’ve heard of “roi roundups” – efforts by the community to spearfish and kill roi, commonly known as the peacock grouper, to remove these invasive fish from our local reefs.

Roi were introduced to Hawaii in the 1950s from French Polynesia with the idea that it could provide a food source for people. An aggressive predator that eats smaller reef fish, roi flourished – especially when Hawaii residents found that the fish carried ciguatera, a type of food poisoning, and avoided eating them.

Alarmed by roi’s voracious appetite for smaller native fish, and concerned that the ciguatoxin carried in roi can move up the food chain and spread to other species, communities throughout the main Hawaiian islands have organized roi roundups.

How much of a problem are roi? What are recent scientific studies finding about the impact of roi on native reef fish? Should we try to rid our reefs of roi? Watch the video to get answers to these and other questions about this invasive fish. This video was presented as part of MNMRC’s monthly “Know Your Ocean” Speaker Series.

Presented by:
Alan Friedlander
, Chief Scientist, Pristine Seas, National Geographic Society, and director of the Fisheries Ecology Research Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi, and Russell Sparks, Aquatic Biologist, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources on Maui.

Our guest emcee was Darla Palmer-Ellingson, local radio show host of the public affairs program, Island Environment 360, made possible by H-Hawaii Media.

“We’ve heard concerns about a recent increase in roi sightings in the reefs of ‘Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve, and thought this would be a good time to bring in these scientists to meet with the community to talk about roi,” said Robin Newbold, co-founder and chair of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. “It’s always good to start with the latest scientific facts as we work towards answers and solutions.”

This free Zoom webinar is part of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s monthly “Know Your Ocean” Speaker Series now being held via Zoom due to COVID-19. Special thanks to the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development for their support of the “Know Your Ocean” Speaker Series.

About Maui Nui Marine Resource Council
Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is a community-based nonprofit organization celebrating 12 years of working for healthy coral reefs, clean ocean water and abundant native fish throughout Maui County. Our work includes co-managing the Hui O Ka Wai Ola Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program at 41 sites in South and West Maui, efforts to reduce pollution in Ma‘alaea Bay (through erosion-control efforts in the Pohakea watershed and using oysters to filter sediment and pollutants from ocean water), coral reef research, visitor education programs and more. Learn more at

About Darla Palmer-Ellingson:
With a strong passion for volunteerism on environmental issues, Darla produces and hosts Island Environment 360, Maui’s only commercially broadcast public affairs show on environmental and related Hawaiian cultural topics. Darla is a member of the County of Maui Citizens Advisory Committee on the Climate Crisis and a member of Vice President Al Gore’s Reality Project, Hawaii chapter. Her company, 360 Social Business, LLC provides website design, content, social media management, general business and marketing consulting.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Reef in Brief

Your information will never be shared. We promise!
Translate »