Cool it | National Hunter

Cool it |  National Hunter

Canadian innovator Deepchill is introducing a new type of ice to the fishing industry.

Kyle Morrison, sales manager at Deepshell in Toronto, Ontario, sees structural constraints on how fishermen can protect the quality of their catch.

“The number two salmon market is shrinking,” he says. “I understand that Alaska wants to protect 32-foot (vessels), but there are structural issues in that fishery that make it difficult for those boats to compete on quality.”

According to Morrison, refrigerated seawater (RSW) does not keep the fish cold enough to maintain them at the highest quality.

“In Bristol Bay, those fish come on board at 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They go to RSW and are brought down to 35 degrees, then they go to a tender and then to the processing plant. It takes a lot of time, and it can be The core temperature of these fish is not equal. Some may be at 35, some 38 and some are freezing. The KPI temperature for salmon is 31 degrees.

While it is often viewed as lacking the flavor and texture of wild salmon, Deepchill slurry-farmed salmon arrives at the market with a quality of wild fish that must rival it. Deepshell photo.

According to Morrison, Deepchill slurry is the right technology to cool fish evenly to the optimum temperature, which he believes is the best way to compete in a market where quality has become vital.

“In almost all ice machines, the ice is created on the surface, and what that does is create flakes with sharp edges no matter how small.” He explains that Deepchill slurry is made by freezing seawater in the liquid itself. “With Deepchill we agitate the water so it doesn’t freeze on the surface of the heat exchanger. What this does is allow the ice to form into little balls. The spherical shape of Deepchill slurry gives it some unique properties in the way it moves and the way it cools the fish,” he says. “Deepchill the fish in storage, allowing continuous cooling.” “The crystal form does not harm the fish, and our slurry can lower the internal temperature of the fish by up to 30 degrees without freezing it.”

Although Deepchill is not yet widely used in Alaskan salmon fishing, it is being used in aquaculture and on a 90-foot Newfoundland trawler, Executioner, owned and operated by Dennis McCarthy. “Dennis typically fishes for crab, bottom fish and shrimp – the latter two have serious shelf life issues,” Morrison says.

Dennis McCarthy, owner of the 90-foot Executioner trawler in Newfoundland, uses Deepchill slurry to preserve his catch of fish, shrimp and crab. Deepshell photo.

Morrison states that McCarthy sought a new system after years of experience using flake ice, and that the Deepchill slurry made a significant difference in the quality of the product that McCarthy was satisfied with. “McCarthy’s now supplies its processors with fish that is superior in color and condition, and delivered at the ideal temperature – even after a longer voyage at sea. Products now sell at a 10-15 percent premium, a Deepchill case study reported.

“We also have a Deepchill machine on a good aquaculture boat, and by cooling the fish to 31 degrees, it extends the shelf life and marketability of their fish,” Morrison says. “What we offer wild harvesters is a way to get the most out of their catch. I’ve heard of processors and tenders losing fish because they couldn’t get the temperature down, or because it took too long.

The smallest Deepchill slurry maker will occupy approximately 52 cubic feet on a gillnet in Bristol Bay, where space is at a premium. “That’s not the market we’re looking at,” Morrison says. “The smaller the machine the more expensive the slurry is, and I don’t know that it would be appropriate for a gill net maker to spend $85,000 on one of these systems. We’re thinking about processing plants and tenders.

The size of the Deepchill machine is approximately 6 x 2.5 x 3.5 feet. It makes ice on board from seawater and can be set up to deliver slurry when needed with adjustable ice/seawater ratios. Deepshell photo.

If a tender could have a machine and place 1 or 2 cubic meters of Deepchill slurry on the gill net, that boat would have about 24 hours to put fish on board. Then if the bidders put the fish they obtained in the slurry on board the ship, they will be able to offer a much higher quality product, and perhaps at a higher price.

The advantage of Deepchill slurry, according to Morrison, is not its temperature. “There is a misconception that the ice temperature is what cools the fish,” he says. “But that’s not all. It’s the ice phase changing between solid and liquid that cools the fish, and our slurry goes through this phase change at a higher rate than other slurries.

Morrison has so much confidence in Deepchill that he is offering to put the system out to tender with a money-back guarantee. “I firmly believe that a tender is the best place to place an order. I would be willing to offer a money-back guarantee for the first season. If they are not happy, we will cancel the order and give them their money back.”

McCarthy states that using a Deepchill slurry enables him to extend his trips, while getting a 10-15 percent premium on the fish he catches. Deepshell photo.

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