Humane Harvesting of Fish

There are three main recognised ways to humanely dispatch fish that are to be harvested. This includes the methods outlined below. All these methods identified will not only ensure ethical treatment of the fish you catch but also improve the quality of your seafood.


Percussive stunning

Fish should be hit with a sharp blow to the head in the area just above the eyes (the area adjacent to the brain) using a special tool such as a heavy wooden handle or a priest. This is a simple and effective method of humane harvesting.


This is a more advanced procedure that involves spiking the brain of the fish. This can be completed with either a sharp knife, a sharpened screwdriver, or by using specially designed iki jime tools and involves accurately inserting the instrument into the brain cavity of the fish to swiftly destroy the brain. The iki jime process requires more precision but results in the lowest levels of stress to the fish and can improve the eating quality. To complete this procedure successfully it is important to understand the location of the brain cavity for the fish species as it is species specific.

For diagrams and more information on this method see Iki-Jime website

Ice slurry

Small to medium-bodied, warm-water fish species may be dispatched using an ice slurry. The slurry should contain equal volumes of crushed ice and water. Leave the fish in the bath for 20 minutes or for 10 minutes after breathing has ceased.

For more information on percussive stunning and ice slurry method see the animal welfare page.


Crustaceans should also be humanely killed when harvested for eating. Recognised methods include the ice slurry method or rapid destruction of the nerve centres using a knife.

For more information on these methods see the animal welfare page.

Other important tips

All fish that are to be harvested should be dispatched quickly after being caught and not retained in keeper nets or a bucket of water. This causes unnecessary stress to the fish, reduces the eating quality and also shortens the storage life of the flesh.

To maximise the eating qualities of your harvested catch, place it on ice or in an ice slurry as quickly as you can after dispatch. Bleeding your fish immediately after dispatch will further improve flesh quality and storage life, particularly if the fish is bled then immediately swiftly chilled.

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