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Daniel Huatahi

At-Sea Seafood Processor

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Daniel Huatahi has been working onboard the deep-sea fishing boat Columbia for a year and a half. He was working as a painter when his best mate, who also works on a deep-sea fishing boat, suggested he give fishing a shot.

“To be honest I didn’t know what to expect to start off with, but once I got into it, it was great. Everybody was so helpful because I was new, and didn’t know anything about fishing.

“I’ve picked up heaps of skills since I’ve been at sea, and learned heaps in that time. If you’re keen to learn, then the crew are keen to help you. If you ask a question, you get an answer straight away.”

Daniel has since worked in various roles on the boat, including deckhand and fish processor, but recently has mainly been overseeing the meal plant during fishing trips. In the meal plant, fish offal and bones are pressed to make fish oil, and what's left is turned into powder to use as fish feed at marine farms.

Fishing trips can last for up to 45 days, and during this time Daniel works six hours on, six hours off, swapping shifts with one other person.“In the meal plant there are only two people running it, so once you’ve finished your six hours, you hand over to the next person and away they go.”

If Daniel's not working in the meal plant, he may be working on the deck, or filleting fish. “On the deck, you’re bringing gear in or fixing the trawls [nets] if they get damaged.

"Filleting’s all done by hand. How much filleting there is depends on how much fish you catch, although sometimes we can be down the back filleting for a good six hours straight."

Daniel says he intends to work his way through the various maritime certificates, with the ultimate goal of working on the ship's bridge. "Even the skipper started from the bottom and worked his way right up to the top. Anybody can do it – just as long as you’ve got the will to do it, you’ll get there."

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