The King of Roi
What started off as a senior project for Kumu Spencer-Misaki, soon became something much bigger and much more meaningful to him and to Molokai’s community.
Kumu’s project was to address how to control the population of the peacock grouper fish, better known here in Hawai’i as roi. It is an invasive species that was introduced to Hawaii in 1956 from French Polynesia as a food source.
However, it soon became apparent that the majority of the roi contained ciguatera a toxin that when consumed, can cause extreme sickness. The roi also began eating a lot of Hawai’i’s reef fish. A roi can consume 150 fish annually and its lifespan is approximately 13 years. So in essence, one roi can consume 1950 fish in its lifetime.
Kumu took home two of the prizes for his own hard work. He won for the smallest fish (.17 lbs) and for the most caught by a team. He and his teammates Wilfred Spencer, John Borden, and Randy Cabreros brought in 64 fish, 31 of which were caught by Cabreros. Ehu Rawlins won the biggest catch of the day at 5.1 lbs.
All in all, the tournament brought in 392 roi in far from ideal conditions. Cameraman Cal Hirai said it was the most he had seen at any tournament this year.
After the prizes were awarded, Kumu presented Camie Kimball, Molokai High School Athletic Director, with a check for $1500. Kumu also donated an additional $122 that he made by raffling a spear that was made by Eddie Castro.
Kumu decided to donate the money to the high school despite not playing any sports. He also has been working hard to raise funds for a school trip to Washington D.C. in March, but did not keep any of his hard-earned roi money for that trip.
It was not just an individual who made all this happen, it was a community. In these hard times, Molokai continues to do what we do best, support each other. This was evident by the amount divers that came out in force that day, the businesses and individuals who so generously donated prizes, and the families that gave of their time and support. Without all of them, this could not have been possible.