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cst-seining.jpg (6694 bytes)       Harvesting and Processing

After fish reach the desired market size, they are harvested, transported to the processing plant, and processed. These practices are relatively standardized across the channel catfish industry.

Fish are harvested using large seines pulled through the pond by tractors. The netting used to construct seines is sized to capture the smallest fish desired for processing. Seines for food fish commonly use a net with about 1.75-inch mesh, which retains fish greater than about 1 pound and allows smaller fish escape and remain in the pond for further growth.

Fish are transported alive to processing plants. Much of the processing is done by hand, but there is a trend towards increased automation to reduce processing costs. A variety of products are marketed, with common products being fillets, fillet strips, steaks, and whole dressed fish. Overall, about 53% of a live catfish is converted into salable products after processing. Processed catfish are available either as fresh, ice-packed product or as various frozen products. Frozen fillets account for the largest portion (over half) of total sales.

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