HONOLULU — As the sun rises over Honolulu, commercial fisherman have already unloaded their catches and docked their boats for the day. The fish are lined up on pallets, packed in ice and displayed for buyers to inspect.

United Fishing Agency holds the country's largest daily fish auction, selling fresh fish to the highest bidders based on market value and quality. Most of the buyers are wholesalers, but some local restaurants and markets also buy their fish directly off the boat.

In many parts of the world, commercial fishermen sell directly to wholesalers, who dictate the price. But at the Honolulu Fish Auction, fishermen can get better prices based on the quality of their fish, with bidding wars often happening.

The auction is the largest in the United States and one of the largest in the world. It's the only fish auction between Tokyo and Maine, and the only tuna auction of its kind in the nation, according to the company.

The load of fresh fish was light Thursday — about 9,000 pounds of ahi tuna, swordfish, moonfish and other species. The auction averages about 70,000 pounds of fish per day and sells up to 100,000 pounds in a single morning, the company says.

The fish are sold locally and to the mainland, as well as to some international customers.

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