Killing seafood

Australians harvest more than 60 million finfish each year, and today's society expects anglers and consumers to dispatch their fish humanely.

If you catch or decide to buy live seafood, you need to be able to kill it humanely before preparing it. Take the time to learn the key steps to improve not only your fishing skills, but the eating qualities of your catch.

A lot of research and time has gone into developing the most humane approach to ensure the best handling. The Aquatic Animal Welfare Working Group was established to develop and undertaken research to develop an Australian Aquatic Animal Welfare Strategy. For more on the Strategy and research undertaken visit their web page Aquatic Animal Welfare Working Group.

The Fishfiles site provides some simple advice on the best approach to use. To kill a finfish Fishfiles recommend using the iki jime (pronounced "ick-ee jee-mee) method.

More details and interactive learning tools that reveal the brain location for a wide range of Australian fish species - please use the iki jime Fish Finder on the Ik jime website.


To kill finfish using iki jime

(pronounced "ick-ee jee-mee)

In iki jime, a spike or awl is inserted directly into the brain causing immediate brain death and the cessation of all motion. Iki jime also prolongs the process of rigor mortis - the natural stiffening of muscle tissues after death. Deterioration of flesh quality occurs mainly after rigor mortis through "quick kill and chill" techniques and produces a higher-quality product with a longer shelf life.

This instant killing method reduces physical damage and the accumulation of waste products in the flesh ensuring maximum quality. The fish is kept intact, apart from a small hole in the head. For best results, the fish must be bled and chilled in ice slurry immediately after it has been spiked.

The location of the brain in some common species can be seen below. These diagrams can be used to correctly spike the fish.

killing bream 


coral trout 

Coral Trout

P. Indicus 






 sea mullet

Sea Mullet


Winter Whiting

winter whiting 

* All image provided by

When spiked correctly, a fish will exhibit a short convulsion, before relaxing.

To use the iki jime technique:

  1. hold the fish firmly and insert a spike into the brain. This should be done as soon as possible after capture or after removing from the water
  2. bleed the fish by cutting through the top of the gills. Access the gills by lifting the gill cover.
  3. place the fish in an ice slurry, Use mostly freshwater and freshwater ice to produce the slurry with the consistency of wet concrete and a temperature between -1°C and +4°C for no more than 2 hours.
  4. remove fish from ice slurry and process further or store as required.




    1. Grasp the eel just behind the head, using a cloth or glove to get a good grip. Pierce the spinal cord with a knife or metal skewer inserted through the back of the head.



Knife, drown or behead the CHILLED crustacean, to makes sure it is dead and not just stunned. Perhaps the most humane method is by knifing.
    1. knife a chilled crab by lifting the abdominal flap (or tail flap) with your hand and inserting the knife all the way through the brain.

crab 2 

    2. you can knife the chilled crab through the eye.


Rock Lobsters and Crayfish

    1. Knife a chilled rocklobster through the centre of the head. Push the knife through to the chopping board.



    2. you can knife the chilled rock lobster through the eye.


Smaller crustaceans such are marron are best killed by chilling then splitting lengthwise with a single knife blow. Insert a knife between the eyes, then push down along the length of the body in one quick movement.