One of the most important considerations for fishing boats is how to keep the catch as fresh as possible until the ship gets back to port. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small family fisherman trawling the waters every day or a large commercial vessel going out for days at a time, the proper icing and storage of the catch is crucial to your profit margin. The use of flake ice is one of the best ways to preserve freshly caught seafood and can be loaded on shore or produced on board.

Flake ice, or scale ice as it is sometimes called, consists of large, flat, thin pieces of ice that are ideal for providing the total contact needed to keep fish and other seafood fresh. However, to keep the ice itself fresh, is must be stored at below freezing temperatures. It remains workable for up to 48 hours but becomes increasingly difficult to work with the longer it is stored because it tends to form clumps. After 96 hours, it is virtually impossible to break apart and the larger chunks will not provide the surface area coverage necessary to keep fish fresh.

Proper Flake Ice Storage

Semco recommends that ice storage chambers aboard fishing ships have the following elements.


Proper insulation in the cargo hold or storage container is crucial to preventing the absorption of bacteria and to preventing vermin access. Lightweight, moisture-resistant Polyurethane Foam is the preferred type of insulation for ice containers aboard ship.


Ice and fish storage areas must be properly lined to ensure the cleanliness of the ice. Fiberglass is preferable for lining cargo holds because it is easy to clean and sanitize. In addition, fiberglass will not absorb microbes and bacteria that could potentially be carried to the next load of ice and the catch stored in it.


An effective drainage system is vital in order to handle runoff from slowly melting ice. This runoff serves to wash away fish slime and prevent standing water both of which are bacteria and microbe breeding grounds that can cause the fish to spoil even while it is in the ice.

Storage containers designed to fit the individual needs of your vessel are also available at Semco.

Flake Ice Production

Flake ice can be purchased and loaded prior to leaving port, which is a viable option for short fishing trips, or it can be manufactured aboard ship which is a safer, more cost effective method for longer expeditions. Flake ice machines that are capable of producing ice using seawater eliminate the space requirements and the expense of carrying fresh water. On board ice machines also allow flake ice to be produced on an as-needed basis, meaning that the ice used to preserve the catch is as clean and fresh as possible.

Whether you choose ready-made ice or make your own aboard ship, Semco can provide the storage solutions needed to bring the freshest possible fish back to port.