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How To Humanely Kill A Fish For Eating

Mark Armstrong
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So you’ve had a really successful day out fishing and you’ve caught a tasty dinner. But you’re probably wondering how to kill the fish you caught and what’s the best and most humane way to do it?

Because it can be difficult we thought we’d put some information together on how to euthanize a fish so that you can do it yourself the next time you catch a potential meal.

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Ways To Kill A Fish Quickly And Humanely

Ike Jime

The ike jime method of killing a fish is a commonly used method in Japan, as it is believed to produce higher quality meat because the fish is not stressed during the process.

Video: Iki Jime – How To Care For Your Catch

It is considered a humane method as it allows for a quick death so that the fish is not suffering. It involves spiking a sharp tool, such as a knife or screwdriver, into the brain of the fish before cutting the gills and tail to bleed the fish, then threading a wire through the fish’s spinal cord.

By threading a wire through the spinal cord, it helps to destroy the nervous system and so prevents any stress signals from being sent around the body. This is what helps to maintain the highest quality of meat, and in Japan and some other commercial markets, it’s done in order to create expensive sashimi grade meat.

You can find out where the brain is located on a specific fish by searching using the Fish Finder tool here.

However, with larger fish, such as tuna, Japanese commercial fishermen will often use captive bolt guns to carry out this same method.

Percussive Stunning

Another humane way of killing a fish is through percussive stunning, which involves hitting the fish with a blunt object. The best way to do this is to hit the fish where it’s brain is located, usually just above the eyes, so that it is instantly knocked out.

If your blow fails to stun the fish, deliver another blow. Once the fish is unconscious it should then be bled similarly to the ike jime method, by cutting the gills and tail and putting it in an ice bucket.

You can use any blunt instrument to do this, as long as you can use it to hit the fish with enough force to knock it out immediately. Tools used in percussive stunning can be known as “priests”, which are essentially wooden clubs.

Minimize Stress

It can be a good idea to think about reducing stress for the fish before you kill it. Think about the fight on the line while you’re reeling it in. These moments can cause the fish to release stress hormones which can also affect the quality of the meat.

Some Japanese commercial fishing vessels will often have livewells on deck where the fish intended for sushi restaurants can calm down before they’re humanely killed using the ike jime method.

So when you’re reeling in your catch, it might be a good idea to either let it de-stress in a livewell or reel it in quickly and kill it fast.


The next time you catch a fish, hopefully now you’ll be able to kill it humanely before it ends up as table fare. Humanely killing a fish can help to preserve the quality of the meat, as well as help to make sure the fish suffers as little as possible during the process.

One of the main things to remember is that you should try to kill it as quickly as possible to minimize stress to the fish. If your first attempt doesn’t work as planned, give it another go.

Let us know how your fish tastes after you try these methods. And remember to share it with your fishing buddies so they can eat fresh, great-tasting fish.

Check out these tasty recipe ideas:

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