While most of the population immediately thinks of prawn species when they hear the word shrimp, the fishing industry uses the term to distinguish small shellfish (decapod crustaceans) from larger varieties. Shrimp are extraordinarily abundant and can be found on the floors of nearly any body of water including oceans, lakes and rivers. Various species adapt to an array of different environments.

There is substantial evidence that dates shrimping on the northwestern coast of the United States back to 600 AD. Native Americans used shrimp as an essential source of protein while many European settlers left the resource untapped. However, during the gold rush, Chinese immigrants introduced the shrimping practice, establishing a booming industry.

Today, shrimp are an essential part of the food and restaurant industry, and are a daily staple in restaurants and homes throughout the world. They are sold whole, but most frequently broken down for their meat. They are viewed as a healthy addition to almost any diet because they are low in saturated fats and high in omega-fatty acids. As such, there is a substantial demand for fresh shellfish.

As with other seafood, the freshness of shrimp is essential in its safety and marketability. They begin spoiling the moment they are killed. Therefore, there is a great risk of loss when storing and transporting shrimp. The best cooling and storage for shrimp and other small shellfish is an important step in ensuring the success of a catch.

Catching and Storing Shrimp

It is important to be careful even before the shrimp have been pulled on board. While it is important to complete a long enough trawl to collect a substantial number of shrimp, if it is extended too long, significant damage can be done to shrimp resulting in loss and more sorting. After the shrimp have been collected, they must be quickly sorted, cleaned, and appropriately stored to prevent spoiling.

On-board Freezing of Shrimp

Shrimp are most commonly transported frozen. While this is not currently common practice everywhere, it can possess great economic benefits because it may increase the quality of the product while also significantly increasing storage time. They can be frozen by using cold brine immersion, air blast freezing, or plate freezing. Using a sugar and salt solution during freezing can substantially improve glaze and aid in separation when thawing. During immersion, they can be frozen in 10-15 minutes, but longer freezing times will result in substantial damage to the seafood. In contrast, block freezing is completed by freezing the shrimp inside ice. This method helps with moisture retention and is most appropriate for cooked shrimp. Once frozen, they must be stored at -30 degrees C in order to ensure freshness.

On-Board Chilling of Shrimp

During chilling, shrimp are placed in shallow boxes with appropriate amounts of ice. While this method can help retain the color of some varieties, it requires substantial attention and care. The shrimp must be entirely covered by the ice, and the shrimp should be carefully layered with ice. In addition, during this process shrimp can only be stored for a short amount of time. They can stay good in ice for up to 4 days, but for optimal freshness, the shrimp should be landed and processed within 2 days. This is most appropriate for short voyages.

Live Transport of Shrimp

While much less common, live transport is growing in popularity due to its higher sale price along with low processing costs. In addition, there are fewer U.S. regulations on the product because it arrives alive. Traditionally, this method required large water tanks, which were expensive and heavy. However, there are several studies that indicate the possibility of transporting live shrimp without water. During the process, live shrimp are cooled to an appropriate holding temperature. They are then warmed or re-acclimated once they arrive at their destination. It has been found that this process is best completed with wood shavings cooled to a holding temperature of 15 degrees C. While fairly new, this method has substantial potential.

Overall, shrimp can be quickly and easily contaminated and spoiled if they are not handled correctly. Therefore, they need to be quickly and appropriately stored for optimal flavor. While there are a number of options, you need to specifically consider the best cooling and storage for shrimp and small shellfish on your unique vessel. As an expert in the cooling and storage field, Semco can help you create the perfect cooling and storage system for your transporting needs. A functioning and appropriate system will ensure the quality of each shrimp you catch.