The fisherman is the first link in the cold chain. If you are chilling or freezing onboard for delivery to processors, you know that they pay higher prices for fish that has been handled carefully and chilled immediately. Or perhaps your decision is to use chilling or freezing onboard to sell direct to consumers and high-end retailers. In this case, you know that you can’t afford to disappoint that customer even once – your name is on the label and your reputation is on the line.

Due to changing conditions with the fish that you normally make your primary catch, you may find it necessary to work multiple fisheries. That may require adjusting the refrigeration equipment that is onboard and IMS has designed systems that work for seasonal conversions or units that can supply you with capability for both onboard chilling and freezing.

In King Cove, Alaska, a rainbow formed over the cod pots in the background, providing a good omen for the upcoming season. Photo by Joshua Mitchell

Chilling & Freezing for Fishermen

The fisherman is the all-important first step in the cold chain – chilling at the point of harvest is critical. Even if space for refrigeration equipment on your boat is limited, IMS provides compact solutions for refrigerating fish. You earn more for your catch if it is refrigerated from the moment it leaves the water. Wherever they work, however they fish and whatever they catch – commercial fishermen in the waters off Alaska, the West Coast, the East Coast and the Gulf use refrigeration equipment manufactured by IMS. For tenders – for fishermen who gill net, drift net, troll, long-line, seine and trawl – for salmon, scallops, tuna, pollock, cod, shrimp, crab and lobster – IMS provides solutions that work. And as far away as the Indian Ocean, IMS equipment is being used to deliver quality.

Chilling Onboard

A plug and play RSW system may be the answer for one vessel and a condensing unit with a remote-mount chiller the better choice for another. From large trawlers to compact gillnetters – and everything in between – we have the expertise to guide fishermen in the process of making decisions that are the most practical and cost-effective for their situation.

2008 Sitka Herring Opener. Photo by Jim Hamilton


Freezing Onboard

Brine freezing is used primarily for large fish to be frozen whole, such as salmon and tuna. Since it takes lower temperatures to freeze the brine (salt water) than the fish, fish are frozen but the water is not. Holding fish in a brine mixture is less labor-intensive; they require less handling than if a conventional freezer is used. Blast freezers hold product at lower temperatures (-20 to -40 degrees) than brine freezing does. Commonly used onboard for tuna, shrimp, crab, squid, mackerel, cod, pollock and scallops, blast freezing provides rapid deep freezing. With tuna, there is an even greater need for onboard refrigeration due to their ability to maintain a body temperature that is significantly warmer than that of the ambient seawater. Brine or blast freezing can accomplish this. Making refrigeration simple, IMS builds Hatch Mount Blast freezers that easily drop into vessels. Oftentimes, both a brine freezing system and a blast freezing system are used in conjunction to increase freezing capacity.

Working Multiple Fisheries

With fluctuations in market prices due to pressures from imports – plus changes in fish stock that can close entire fisheries, it is increasingly important for fishermen to be flexible in order to prosper in these challenging times. IMS provides fishermen with refrigeration systems that allow the boat to work more days of the year and harvest multiple species.

A removable deck-mount RSW system that allows for seasonal conversion means that the F/V Kari Marie works both as a crab boat and salmon tender. A Combination Chilling / Freezing System like the one aboard the F/V Victory means that the ship can tender in Alaska and also have the capability to blast freeze specialized product for direct sale to high-end consumers.

Live Seafood Delivery

Certain products, like crab and lobster, require live delivery. Holding live product onboard requires temperature control, aeration, water re-circulation and the use of titanium, rather than copper nickel, chillers. IMS has experience in multiple fisheries with helping fishermen deliver quality with zero dead-loss. In the case of Norton Sound Seafood Products, the additional challenge was to allow the vessel to work as a barge in the off-season with a removable live-delivery system as a crab tender during the season.

From Happy Customers

The 15-ton diesel-drive RSW that I bought from IMS paid for itself in the first year. The unit chills down fast. I have a 30,000 lbs. fish hold and the system brought it down 6 degrees an hour. I'm really satisfied with the both the unit and the service from IMS. But I've never had much of a problem - the unit pretty much runs itself!”

"Eddie" Pestrikoff, Owner, F/V Melina

After looking at the albacore in the hold, I was amazed at how good the color was - bright blue. The IMS Hatch Mount Blast Freezer is a slick piece of equipment. It works great. The buyer's inspector stated that the blast frozen fish in my hold were the finest fish he had seen all year.”

Tony Jones, F/V Dreamboat Annie

The 18-ton electric RSW from IMS has performed flawlessly for the past three years. There's been no maintenance; I've just changed out the zincs and it has a good screening system. The unit brings temperatures down fast, with more than enough refrigeration for the 55,000 lb. hold. I am very pleased!”

Mark Edens, Owner, F/V Lady Kay

IMS's chiller is such a quality system. I congratulate myself every summer for making the investment. You should be justifiably proud of the system you have designed and the company you have built. It is a pleasure doing business with you!”

Ross Kendall, Set Net Site

When we ordered the IMS 50-ton deck mount unit, we were under the gun ... It was amazing ... we had plenty of time to learn it, run it and test it. Without IMS, we would not have made our charter.”

Cathy Hansen, manager, F/V McKinley

With a premium paid for refrigerated fish, I recouped my investment within the first year. Ever since then, it's just been money in my pocket.”

Joe Hinton, F/V Menusa

'Never bought fish this cold,' stated the Japanese broker when purchasing -40 degree F blast frozen albacore from the F/V Evolution. John equipped his tanked vessel with an IMS Hatch Mount Blast Freezer for easy seasonal conversion to the albacore fishery. When buying John's albacore, the Japanese broker said he was not used to buying fish that cold from this coast. He ordered a special trailer to hold them since they were so cold. Referring to his new blast freezer, John said, 'IMS is great. When you get good equipment, then you have what it takes to meet market demand.'"

Jon McMillan, Owner & Skipper, F/V Evolution

I like the IMS unit because it's so compact and I installed it myself. I do not believe anybody chills water down as fast as I can...”

Jerry Hatton, F/V Primo Lai

I've only got good things to say about the IMS RSW system I use for brine-freezing albacore. It's compact enough to fit on my boat and I remove it at the end of the season. I turn it on and turn it off ... that's all I do. It's easy to operate, does all that IMS said it would and more! There's enough to worry about with catching fish... don't need to worry about freezin' 'em!”

Kris Samuelson, F/V Dos Ninas

Switching to all-RSW allowed us to produce higher quality fish and access new markets not available to fish that haven't been chilled at point of harvest. The single-most important thing the fisherman can do to maintain quality of the fish is to chill at the point of harvest.”

John Lowrance, Owner, Leader Creek Fisheries

IMS equipment has allowed me to deliver top product at a premium price. I have a re-newed outlook on the Louisiana Gulf fishing industry.”

Lance Nacio, Owner, F/V Anna Marie

Joe Wabey chose a 60-ton IMS RSW system. "The system worked like a dream, it's been flawless. Made our summer great. High praise for IMS and their equipment.”

Joe Wabey, Owner, F/V Arctic Eagle

I am lovin' my IMS unit. It's going on eight years now and there's been nothing to do but change belts and impellers. I fish when and where I want and am not tied to a tender. My friends have bought IMS units and they're happy too. It has only taken a few fishing season's to pay for itself and now I'm enjoying the extra money it generates for me.”

Mark Hofstad, F/V Norsemen

The core temperatures on the filets were consistent. From a production standpoint, the FastFreeze did everything I needed. Met our freezing needs and produced a high-quality product.”

Mike Briski, Production Manager, Peter Pan Seafoods Port Moller Plant

IMS refer systems have a proven history. I've used them before - they're 'Plug and Play'. They've all worked good. Nothing I've had to worry about.”

Ray Wadsworth, F/V Liahona

My titanium chiller system from IMS works great! We are able to fish offshore, stay on the grounds longer and deliver outstanding quality lobster. Our self-contained refrigeration system was easy to install - and is a breeze to operate - saving us time and money. I originally bought from another vendor in New England, thinking it might be better to buy local for better service. But I was wrong. When I later bought a system from IMS, the customer service was much better: heads above the service you generally find today anywhere. The product was also better: built as a compact and easy-to-use unit. My first product had not been well-integrated into the boat.”

Robert Colbert, F/V Miss Julie

IMS is local and well-known. Their systems are reliable and maintenance-free - which is a big issue for me. I know that if I do need parts, I'll get fast delivery. Other vendors have problems with that!”

Ron Harper, F/V Pacific Gem

It's easy to install. The system can be retrofitted in an existing boat in about four days. It's really compact and it makes refrigeration simple.”

Paolo Jurkovich, F/V Branko J

The 7.5-ton RSW system has allowed us to maximize value of our fish since 2004 when it was installed. The IMS refrigeration system allows us to earn more and be proud to deliver a high quality product.”

Ray Honea, Crewman, F/V Balrog

After looking at the albacore in the hold, I was amazed at how good the color was - bright blue. The IMS Hatch Mount Blast Freezer is a slick piece of equipment. It works great. The buyer's inspector stated that the blast frozen fish in my hold were the finest fish he had seen all year.”

Dave Fee, F/V Star Polaris