Our solution

The need

Fishery is a key sector in the European food industry. More than 90,000 fishing vessels are running under flag of an EU or EFTA country providing more than 5 million tonnes of fresh fish and seafood in a year. 86% of these ships, approximately 82,000 vessels belong to the smallest, under 25 tonnes class operated mainly by SME fishing companies.

Although the fish consumption in Europe is increasing, due to the decrease in fishing stocks and the limitations of the EU fishing fleet capacity, competition is sharply increasing. More and more products are arriving from South-American countries and from the Far-East that puts small-size fishing companies under pressure.

In the fishing industry ice is broadly used and a fundamental commodity both for preservation and distribution of fresh fish. To maintain freshness and fish quality, all species of fish require ice as soon as they are caught. High temperatures promote fish spoilage, and ice serves to preserve fish quality: fish remain fresh, wet and shiny and maintain the appeal customers are looking for in the market. A well-kept fish has a fresh smell, bright, clear eyes and vibrant flesh. Seafood’s value in a healthy diet is significant given that several trace elements required for proper nutrition are found in fresh seafood—apart from the fact that fish are delicious. As a result of this, fishing industry is a dominant sector of the food industry in Europe, although it gets some environmental criticism.

The solution

The solution is obvious: product quality must be improved to maintain a competitive edge, while the operating costs of the vessels must be decreased to remain competitive.

RECOICE project represents an environmentally sound means to make progress on both quality improvement and cost reduction by developing a cost-effective on-board liquid ice making machine for small-size fishing vessels.

In order to eliminate melting of pre-manufactured ice between the site of its production and consumption, which is the principal need identified previously, we propose the use of an on-board ice-making machine. Transportation and preventing ice from melting is a serious problem especially in the summer fishing season. Small-scale ice-making machines for fishing boats are currently on the market, but only as a separate system. They can be easily fit in many fishing boats but need an additional power source. That required power could come from a new diesel engine/generator or be produced using the existing engine, increasing its diesel consumption. However, increasing fuel consumption of a low efficiency, high-emission engine could not be advised as a state-of-the-art solution.

Innovation

Typically, fishing vessels of 100 tonnes and over are equipped with refrigeration installations and have on-board freezers in which to store their catch. Given that it is simply not feasible to store sufficient ice purchased at a port terminal on board to meet the needs of a long voyage, these types of vessels process the catch at sea and must have ice generators installed for cooling fish during processing.

Fishing vessels between 20 and 100 tonnes also normally embark on lengthy fishing excursions. Some are equipped with compressor refrigerators; however, most use ice to preserve the catch. Usually, ice is loaded on board at the beginning of the day; however, some vessels have invested in on-board ice generators due to the difficulties involved in securing regular supplies without incurring unacceptable delays in port.

This project will build on existing technologies by combining them into a new application designed to save fuel and reduce carbon-dioxide emission by small fishing vessels. This additional resource (fuel) free technology will also lower costs of ice-making.

As a logistic benefit, we note the enhanced flexibility of fishing vessels: equipped with an on-board ice-making machine they can take advantage of the best “catching times” without waiting for pre-produced ice in a harbour.