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On the Job: Meet the Fish Filleter

Cutting fish is an art for Danny Martinez of Catalina Offshore Products


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Photo by Robert Benson

Danny Martinez

Age: 48
Company: Catalina Offshore Products
Job: Cutter

Danny Martinez is involved in some fishy business. For the past 14 years, he has worked for Catalina Offshore Products, typically putting in 12-hour days and cutting up to 10,000 pounds of fish per shift.

Martinez starts with a whole 50-to-90-pound tuna (also halibut, snapper, grouper, and more). The wholesale customers get the bigger cuts; the smaller markets buy the fillets. Similar to the way beef is sliced and priced, certain cuts are considered finer than others. The art of the fillet is knowing how to cut each species—the way the spines are laid out, the way it swims, the placement of its fins.

In his spare time, Martinez has mastered another art: Mexican wrestling. He works as a teacher and coach in Tijuana, and his masked persona is Felino Salvaje (Savage Feline).

At Catalina Offshore, his work inevitably follows him home. “Even when I wash my hands, I still stink of fish,” he laughs, describing his wife’s reaction when he walks in the door. “I say, ‘Honey, what I can do?’ But she forgives me. We’ve been married 26 years.” And as for the answer to that age-old question: What’s for dinner? Of course, it’s fish. “Every day! I make sushi. They’re delicious to me. The quality is what’s important.”

Fun Fact

Catalina Offshore Products receives an average delivery of 20,000 to 30,000 pounds of fish per day, sourced mostly from SoCal and Baja waters. The local company is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

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