Federal officials are embarking on a study of seven Hawaii fish species to assess the overall health of their populations.

Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the start of the upcoming study at a news conference Tuesday on Ford Island. The survey will bring local commercial fishermen and scientists together to get a count of several species of deep-water grouper and snapper, which are popular table fare.

NOAA marine biologist Benjamin Richards, the survey's lead researcher, said that based on their last assessment the species are currently doing well, but the bottom dwellers are popular with consumers, especially around the holidays, meaning fishing pressure is always a concern.

"The bottom fish are the deep seven, the nice big red fish that you see at nice restaurants, that you see on your nice holiday platters," Richards said. "Our most recent stock assessment shows that the deep seven stock is not overfished. ... The data that we are collecting is to help ensure that continues."

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