What they do
Seafood processors prepare and package fish, shellfish and other seafood, ready for sale or supply. They clean, scale and fillet seafood as required. In some cases they also remove the meat from shellfish such as mussels, oysters and prawns, trimming them to meet required specifications. Once the seafood has been cleaned and prepared, seafood processors must pack it for transport or sale, which may involve freezing and/or using machinery to package some products in airtight bags and other wrappings. These workers may also be responsible for sorting seafood to determe its quality, which will affect its price and use.
Specialisations include: Abalone Sheller, Mussel Opener (NZ), Oyster Opener
Seafood processors work in factories and processing plants, usually in coastal areas around the Perth metropolitan and Mid West/Gascoyne regions. Their work environments are usually cool and wet, to minimise the risk of seafood spoiling. They spend long periods on their feet and may be required to lift heavy crates of seafood. Hygiene is an important aspect in any occupation working with food. Seafood processors are usually required to sterilise their hands and clothing upon entering the processing area, and will be required to wear protective clothing. Evening and early morning shift work is usually required to prepare seafood in time to be shipped to stores before they open.
The seafood industry in general is highly seasonal, with many types of seafood only permitted to be caught during certain months, which may have an impact on the availability of work at certain times of the year.
Tools and technologies
Seafood processors use sharp knives to fillet and prepare fish and open shellfish. They will have to regularly sharpen knives to maintain their effectiveness and safety. In some cases, cleaning and preparation of seafood may be done by machine, which seafood processors will be responsible for operating and maintaining. After the seafood has been processed, these workers will need to package it using boxes, cartons, plastic wrapping and specialised packaging machines. Seafood processors will have to wear protective and hygienic clothing, including gloves, aprons, gumboots, earmuffs and hairnets. They will also often be required to use hoses and scrubbing brushes to keep work areas clean.
How do I become one?
Education and training
You can work as a seafood process worker without any formal qualifications and get training on the job.
You can also complete a traineeship. The process worker and leading hand – seafood processing traineeships usually take 12 to 24 months to complete, and the process worker traineeship is available as a school-based traineeship.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.