Chilling Your Catch

Chilling is quickly becoming the standard in the Bay.  Canning production is at an all time low and two more major processors have announced they will no longer accept unchilled fish in 2018.  Fishermen must make an investment in their business or risk loosing their markets.

Fish holds must be insulated and RSW installed or ice utilized throughout the season.

The commitments of money and in-season effort are two of the greatest barriers preventing dry boat fishermen from chilling their catch, and often the perception exists that costs associated with making the change to chilling outweigh potential benefits. Although many fishermen still cling to this perception and resist making necessary investments to chill, the economic reality for most fishing operations is quite different.

Chilling Net Income Tool

We have created an interactive form to calculate how a chilling investment will affect your net income, given your specific inputs. Use this financial planning tool to explore various investment options.

Enter your values into the yellow fields below, then press ‘enter’. The calculator tool will automatically update the displayed results.

Your Chilling Options

Not long ago the only method available for Bristol Bay fishermen to chill their catch was through the use of an RSW system, but starting in 2008 that began to change. Today, ice is available in most fishing districts and many processing companies are distributing ice on tenders, making it even more convenient. Improved availability has made slush ice a viable alternative to RSW. Although RSW is certainly convenient and consistent, the low cost of slush bags or a fish hold insulation job are a practical choice for many, and should be strongly considered as a revenue-enhancing alternative.

Before committing to any chilling system upgrade it is important to evaluate your resources, needs and goals.

Insulated Fish Holds

A wide range of methods and materials are available to insulate the fish holds of Bristol Bay gillnetters; and if done properly, insulation will provide an adequate thermal barrier for use with slush ice or RSW, and last for decades.

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RSW Systems

Refrigerated sea water (RSW) systems chill fish through a mechanical process that pulls heat from the catch into an evaporator, then discharges that heat overboard through a condenser.


Slush bags are watertight, vinyl coated nylon bags that isolate each individual fish hold so water and ice can be added to chill the fish. They can be made with or without a layer of insulation and cost as little as $200 per bag.

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