Seafood is prepared and processed for sale to consumers, retail and wholesale businesses, for export for restaurants and catering industry.
Seafood processing is a vital part of the seafood chain, making sure that our seafood harvest is safe and great to eat. Seafood processing can involve:
- Cleaning, filleting and cutting fin fish
- Smoking Atlantic Salmon and other seafood
- Marinating seafood and preparing seafood mixes
- Preparing sashimi-grade fish, such as tuna
- Freezing fish and other seafood
- Preparing shaped & crumbed products such as fish fingers, from fresh or frozen blocks
- Opening oysters and other shell fish
- Grading and boiling prawns and other crustaceans
Where are the jobs?
Jobs in the seafood processing sector are likely to be with a small to medium sized processing operation which may specialise in one or a few species or may process a wide variety of seafood species, such as squid, oysters, abalone and other muscles, prawns, lobsters and fin fish.
Large wholesale and retail seafood businesses and aquaculture operations may also employ staff who process seafood as part or all their job. Seafood processing businesses may also be located in regional and rural areas but the larger firms tend to be in the major metropolitan areas.
Seafood processing work can be seasonal and can involve dealing with a variety of species and product types or just one or two.
What's the work like?
The work will vary in each business, but is likely to involve a mix of handling and processing activities, using knives and other equipment such as thermometers and scales, some cleaning and maintenance of the premises and equipment, and quality assurance and food safety monitoring. In some businesses, you might also carry out tests on seafood products or prepare samples to send out to laboratories for testing.
You will usually work in a cool, often wet, environment, and can spend much of your day standing. You must wear protective clothing, such as an apron, protective footwear and hair covering.
What sort of jobs are there?
Assistant seafood processing worker: for many people this is the entry to a career in seafood processing. Typical work would involve cleaning and filleting fish, moving stock, putting ice on seafood and tidying the premises, work areas and equipment.
Seafood processing worker: a worker at this level could be involved in filleting fish, opening oysters and other shellfish, grading and sorting prawns as well as moving stock, controlling the temperature of seafood, and cleaning and tidying the premises, work areas and equipment.
Seafood processing leading hand: someone working at this level could be a specialist, for example, processing crocodiles, handling and packing sashimi grade fish, or boiling prawns and other crustaceans. A seafood processing leading hand would also be supervise other employees and monitor food safety and occupational health and safety.
What do I need to get a job?
There are no specific entry requirements for employment in seafood processing, although employers usually prefer applicants who have completed Year 10 or the equivalent. You can start work at any level - you do not have to start as an assistant seafood processing worker.
A job in seafood processing can be the stepping stone to many career choices - seafood technologist, developing new products and processing techniques, seafood retailer, wholesaler, importer or exporter are just some possible jobs.
Seafood processing can also lead to work on a fishing vessel, where seafood can be processed on board or on an aquaculture farm, where a wide variety of seafood species are grown and harvested ad where some processing may be done.
Can I do a traineeship?
Traineeships are available for assistant seafood processing workers, seafood processing workers and seafood processing leading hands. Usually, these traineeships will involve a mix of on and off the job training and will lead to a nationally recognised vocational qualification.
If you would like more information about a career in seafood processing, contact your local Seafood Industry Training Advisory Body. In Victoria this is Seafood Industry Victoria.