Today, keeping fish alive is still a common practice of fish preservation in many countries, but more strategies have been developed in the modern times with the same goal in mind. One of them was the means of keeping fish not alive, but fresh, with the use of ice.
It was in the late 1940s when vessel designers developed a trawler which indicated the great advantage of larger trawlers that process their catch on board. And with the help of ice, commercial fishermen were able to avoid wastage and improve on their service.
Ice in the commercial fishing industry
The fishing industry consists of the processes related to fish and fish products between the time they were caught and the product is delivered to the customer.
Fish is an extremely perishable and a very delicate food which requires proper management and preservation, in order to have a longer shelf life and to maintain a pleasant quality and dietary value. A major problem of fish processing is to keep the fish fresh, and this is the basic concern during other processing operations.
Commercial fish processing is divided into 3 divisions:
- Fish Handling – processing of the raw fish and the making of fish products
- Filleting and freezing – filleting and freezing of fish and distribution to retail and catering outlets
- Chilling and freezing – chilling and freezing frozen and canned products to retail and catering trades.
Ice holds a major role in each division.
Why commercial fishermen use ice for fish preservation:
- Inexpensive and easily obtainable
- Works quickly to cool the fish
- Provides extra moisture for the fish
- Does not introduce toxic substances to the fish
Ice is the preferred cooling form of many commercial fishing vessels because it delivers very effective, thorough cooling. Flake or slush ices are their favored type of ice because it is able to completely enclose the fish and enter its openings and crevices.
Types of Ice Used:
The ice used in commercial fishing come in different sizes and shapes, but typically crushed ice or flake ice is used due to its ease and speed of making, plus it packs well around fish. On the bigger boats ice is made on demand from the abundant salt water using special salt water ice making machines. It is then crushed or flaked as required. Smaller boats will take block ice with then and have a crusher onboard to make it usable to pack the fish as they catch it.
Due to advancement in technology, new methods of preserving fish have been developed, like using ice to keep the fish fresh.
Preservation techniques using ice are needed to prevent fish spoilage and prolong its shelf life by lowering the temperature. The fish are refrigerated by packing the fish in boxes with ice.
Another effective method of preserving the freshness of fish is by distributing ice evenly around the fish. This cooling method keeps the fish moist and in forms that are suitable for transport. This method has become widely used since the development of refrigeration which made ice easy and cheap to produce.
Avoiding spoilage though ice preservation is perhaps the best techniques devised in keeping raw fish in its freshest condition. Ice makes it possible for demanding customers to serve fresh fish coming from a very distant place.