Making Ice at Sea

How does freshly caught fish maintain appearance, flavor, and product safety between being caught and being sold to consumers and wholesalers? The answer lies in cooling the catch as soon as possible. Chilling helps to keep fish well-preserved and in excellent appearance. When freshly caught fish are properly cooled, there is an additional benefit in lengthening the duration of the fishing trip, allowing the catch to be maximized. Therefore, a proper method of cooling is an economic advantage to workers in the fishing industry. It provides increased catch sizes and better-preserved, higher quality fish, ultimately commanding higher prices at the market at the retail and wholesale levels.

Cooling Methods 

There are a number of different methods for keeping fish properly cooled during commercial fishing expeditions. Some of them involve sophisticated and expensive refrigeration systems, including freezers for long term storage. However, one of the most efficient and effective methods is to use ice. This method of reducing temperatures is the most common in the industry. Among the different types of ice products available, flake ice provides an impressive array of advantages.

Flake Ice Provides the Best Cooling and Handling

The use of ice in fishing boats has many general advantages. It is inexpensive, maintains a definite temperature, and has a very high cooling capacity. It also keeps fish moist, and often serves to wash surface bacteria from fish while it melts. Ice in flake form provides a host of advantages. One of the biggest is its excellent surface contact area. Flake ice features a larger heat-exchange surface than other types of ice. This provides faster and more efficient cooling. The shape of flake ice also protects a catch from injury and bruises, as it is light and contains no sharp edges. Furthermore, flake ice is easy to handle and store when sub-cooled insulated storage is present. It is also easy to use in fishing operations because it does not need crushing before use.

On Board Ice Manufacturing

On board flake ice manufacturing has numerous advantages; for instance, it can save money. After initial investment costs, using a flake ice machine can save customers considerable expense compared to purchasing ready-made ice. The only remaining costs come from the upkeep and maintenance of the equipment. Having a freshwater or seawater flake ice maker on board also saves potential expenses that occur from purchasing more ice than is needed. With on board equipment, the exact amount of ice can be produced whenever it is required, eliminating the need for estimating and purchasing the ice in advance. 

Flake machines can employ freshwater or seawater for ice production, and each process has its own set of advantages: 

Seawater: For all seafaring vessels, being able to actually use the sea to make ice is an obvious advantage; using seawater allows fishing vessels to produce ice on demand with a nearly limitless supply. This factor also contributes to overall flexibility in the volume of catches that can be made in the length of each fishing trip. Shipboard seawater ice makers can also make seawater ice while dockside where freshwater is expensive or in short supply. 

Freshwater: While freshwater is clearly less plentiful while a vessel is at sea, using it can provide a number of advantages. Freshwater ice is more efficient to make; it freezes ice at -5 degrees F, whereas salt water freezes ice at -30 degrees F. This difference requires more refrigeration horsepower to produce seawater ice. Salt water has a variable temperature, and therefore presents the risk of partially freezing fish during the cooling process. Salt absorption can also affect certain species of fish, so care must be taken to avoid using seawater ice to cool those species which are adversely affected.  often times fishing vessels will either carry a supply of freshwater on board, or some may opt to use a de-salination plant to remove the salt content to make freshwater while out at sea. This would depend on what they are fishing for, some species are more delicate and cannot use seawater ice due to its ability to freeze  the harvest rather than simply chilling it.

Experience and Quality 

Howe Corporation offers many different flake ice machine models; ranging from daily production of 1,000 through 40,000 pounds of ice for land-based applications and 2,000 through 6,000 pounds of ice using freshwater or seawater ice maker models for fishing vessel applications. Models are available for use with either seawater or freshwater. Our deep level of experience in producing these machines has resulted in some of the most innovative and reliable features available. 

Ice flakers from Howe are durable, flexible, and create the highest quality flake ice. They also offer lower maintenance requirements and are more energy-efficient than many brands available on the market. Ice machines and the flake ice they produce can make a huge difference in the freshness and quality of freshly caught fish. To find out more, please contact us directly.