Fish consumption has been rapidly increasing throughout the world, contributing to a growing market for fresh seafood. The freshness of your catch is crucial in delivering an optimal product to your consumer. However, seafood requires particularly careful handling because it begins to spoil the moment it is killed. Gill nets are particularly susceptible to spoiling, and the heat of the boat deck can further contribute to the initial spoiling of fish.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the initial spoiling of fish before it even reaches the consumer, and this may result in substantial loss of product and profit. Therefore, ice is an important factor in mitigating this loss. However, ice alone does not guarantee preservation. It is essential to make sure that you are using the best ice and icing method for your boat and situation. As you craft your icing system, consult this best practices checklist for fish icing.

Environment

Fish are highly susceptible to heat and sun. Particularly in warm and humid climates, fish can be quickly affected even after packed in ice, and fish should absolutely not be left open on deck. While some boats install a covered container, a large canopy, made of reflective material, most effectively reduces on deck heat. In addition, installing an insulated tub for immediate storage increases cooling and greatly reduces spoilage.

Type of Ice

When selecting ice, you will want to consider the size of your vessel and the length of the expedition. Some of the most popular ice choices for fishing expeditions include the following:

  • Block – Blocks are frozen in large containers, creating big chunks of ice. This form is effective and beneficial because it lasts for long periods of time and can be easily stored. However, in order to be effective, the blocks must be broken down into smaller pieces, which can be inefficient since it requires either extra equipment, manual labor, or both.
  • Flake – Flakes or shells are frozen into small flat pieces. This method is more ideal than blocks because it has substantial direct contact with the fish, keeping it substantially cooler. However, because of its surface area, it takes up a large amount of space and melts quickly.
  • Slush – Slush is used to store seafood in closed containers and possesses a large liquid ratio. This method is highly effective in cooling, but if not used correctly can leave fish exposed.

For more detailed information about ice types and their respective pros or cons be sure to check out our article series on fish cooling with various types of ice.

Amount of Ice

It is essential to have the correct amount of ice to ensure that you will have enough to last the entire voyage. You will want to consider a number of factors in ensuring that you have the appropriate amount of ice including:

  • The length of your trip
  • Your average amount of catch
  • The type and size fish you will be catching
  • Available space on your vessel
  • Potential ice loss
  • Local ambient temperatures

Storage

Ensuring the optimal condition of your ice is important for ensuring that fish remains fresh. The condition of ice and its hold can greatly impact the freshness of the fish.

  • Insulation – You want to install the best insulation possible, usually plastic foam but this could vary depending on your circumstances. Strong insulation will substantially prevent bacterial absorption in the containers and will eliminate exposure to vermin.
  • Lining – Lining is important in ensuring the cleanliness of the hold’s surface, and appropriate materials can be easily cleaned and disinfected. While wood and metal linings can be used, they possess a number of disadvantages. Instead, newer fiberglass laminates are inexpensive to install and easy to maintain.
  • Drainage – The contaminants in the ice and melt can greatly affect the freshness of the seafood. Melt and fish slime become breeding grounds for microbes and other bacteria, which can destroy your catch. Therefore, it is essential to install an effective drainage system that efficiently discards all run off. In addition, all old ice should be drained and absolutely never reused.

As a leading cooling and storage industry expert, Semco can help you ensure that you are following best practices in seafood storage. We are interested in working with customers to fulfill their storage needs through customized systems.