Processing smaller fish just got easier

For the last twenty years the tendencies in the fish processing and canning industry have been that the fish have become smaller and smaller. This means that that yesterday’s processing machines, designed as they were to process bigger fish, can no longer cope with today’s demand, as the fish are often smaller than originally envisaged by the engineers.

Smaller sizes are also more prevalent today because increased demand for fish for human consumption has meant that a number of new fish species are now considered economically viable for industrial production. The Swedish company Seac has been watching these changes for the last decade and has developed its own brand of processing machines for smaller fish meaning from approx 25 fish per kilo down to 100 fish per kilo.

An additional device fitted to a Seac nobbing machine can be used to produce the deli herring, which is popular on some markets.


New machines based on former Arenco machines

By rebuilding the former Arenco machines, Arenco SFD-300 and Arenco CIS-N, Seac has, over the last eight years, acquired in-depth experience in machines for processing smaller fish. A few years ago the company launched its own series of machines, designated the Seac FPM (Seac Fish Processing Machines), on the market. The new Seac FPM-200 nobbing machine is tailor made for each type and size of fish with its own special head and fish pocket to obtain the maximum yield from each fish. The individual head-measuring device secures the best cut just behind the gill fin and compared to a standard two-knives vacuum cutting machine yield is up to 15% higher with the Seac FPM-200 machine, says Ulf Groenqvist, the owner of Seac AB.

The machine has become popular in areas where there is a clear tendency for the fish to become smaller, such as the Mediterranean Sea and the Baltic Sea, where today you can find filleting machines for sprats/sardines/anchovy down to approx 60/80 fish/kilo and nobbing machines that can process fish down to 100 fish/kilo. The tailor made head pockets and the following fish pockets are designed for the small bodies and smaller heads of this type of sardine, anchovy or similar fish that needs to be processed on an industrial scale.

The processing machines can be used for fish as small as 100 pieces per kilo.


The new Seac FPM-400 is an FPM-200 combined with a filleting machine for smaller fish. This has a capacity of up to 380 pockets/minute during heading, gutting and tailing operations and 250 pockets/minute during filleting. This means that for each machine a company can save up to 15 employees heading, gutting, and tailing and up to 40 operators during filleting, claims Mr Groenqvist. The Seac FPM-400 can also be fitted with an additional device to manufacture a new product, the Kronsardines or deli herring (see image). This product gives a very high yield and has become popular on some markets.

Species tested on Seac filleting or nobbing machines:

  • Sillago bassensis, a small whitefish from Australia (fillets)
  • Peruvian hake, small sizes (fillets)
  • Vendace in north Europe (fillets)
  • Capelin in north Europe (fillets)
  • Redbait and similar species from Australia (fillets)
  • Sprats from north Europe and elsewhere (H&G+T, fillets, belly cleaned)
  • Anchovy from Peru (both H&G+T and fillets)
  • Anchovy from Mediterranean Sea (both H&G+T and fillets)
  • Yellow striped trevally from Thailand (fillets down to 10 g fish)
  • Saury from east Russia (H&G+T)
  • Red mullet small sizes from Mediterranean Sea and Australia (fillets)
  • Horse mackerel small sizes from Far East and Australia (H&G+T + fillets)


Long-standing collaboration with Peruza

Seac has been working together with Peruza, a Latvian maker of processing machinery for over 20 years and the two companies will be exhibiting together at Sea Food Expo Global in Brussels. For the last two years Peruza has displayed two very interesting machines at the show. A high speed nobbing line for very small fish (like sprats and similar fish smaller than 80 fish/kilo), which with a capacity of up to 900 fish/min is one of the highest capacity machine on the market and a revolution for the sprat industry or other industries processing very small fish. The other machine is an automatic feeder that can handle fish of the same size as is processed by the Seac FPM-200 and FPM-400 (approx 20/25-60/80 fish per kilo). The automatic feeder together with the Seac machines have been installed in Latvia and Poland and promise to revolutionise the canning industry world-wide.