The bane of many industrial fishermen is spoilage. Fish spoilage destroys the economic value of the catch and, if spoiled fish are somehow overlooked and do make it to market, could also severely damage the reputation of the fisherman or company. What follows are 5 important tips for preventing fish spoilage.
Use Flake or Small Ice
Many fishermen bring ice to sea in block form since block ice is more compact to store and since the ice itself is often sold in block form. However, the cooling efficacy of the ice is much higher if it is in flake or slush form. That is because compared to large or block ice, smaller ice particles can come into much more complete contact with the fish as they make their way into small crevices and openings. Thus, even if you do bring your ice in block form it is a wise strategy to break it into small pieces or flakes prior to icing the fish.
Bring Plenty of Ice
Right up there in terms of importance with using the right type of ice is using enough ice. For more information on determining the amount of ice you will need for your fishing trip please see our article on How to Calculate the Amount of Ice Needed to Chill Fish. The main takeaway, however, is that for warm-water fishing you will need approximately a ratio of 1:3 for pounds of fish to pounds of ice and possibly more depending on other factors. It could be tempting to underestimate how much ice you will need since bring more ice will likely reduce the storage capacity you have available for fish; however, a better way to think about it is that bringing too little ice could endanger your entire catch.
Insulate Your Storage Area
The best way to safely reduce the amount of ice you will need is to insulate your storage area. Well-insulated cargo holds will help reduce the rate at which the ice melts by keeping warm temperatures out and cold temperatures in. This will keep your fish fresh and safe for longer and could also help free up valuable cargo space that you can use for something else.
Cover the Fish Immediately
It’s hard to over-emphasize how dangerous it is too leave fish out, baking in the hot sun. Ideally of course you will be able to immediately ice them and store them in a well-insulated container, but even if this is not possible, it is crucial to at least keep them covered and moist as soon as they are out of the water. Consider setting up a canopy on your boat’s deck to reflect much of the sun’s rays and provide crucial shade to freshly-caught fish – and your crew.
The key to preventing fish spoilage is to plan ahead as much as possible. Before ever leaving shore you should know how long you will be out, how far you will go out, what the weather will be like, and what types of fish you will be catching. These factors will all impact how much ice you will need to bring and how much time you have before spoilage occurs.
Semco offers a full range of ice and cooling systems that are ideal for use in the seafood industry. We understand how crucial it is for our clients to keep their fish fresh and safe and we take that responsibility very seriously. All of our systems can be fully customized to meet the needs and capacity demands of each particular client. Please contact us for more details.