How do seafood restaurants receive their fresh and frozen fish for their fare? They use contractors who know how to ship fresh fish locally, nationwide and overseas. Many avid anglers know how to ship frozen fish and fresh fish as they may either ship their catches to friends and family out of state or send them back home when they go out of state to fish.
Fish is a highly perishable food item; consequently, it is critical that you know the process of shipping fresh fish in order to keep your catch from spoiling en route to its final destination, especially if you do not intend to ship it frozen.
How Should Fish Be Stored, Transported and Prepared?
Storing Fresh Fish
You will have to store your fish right after you catch it until the time you process it to ship. As soon as you catch the fish, you should put it on ice until you transport it for shipping preparation. The best storage container is an ice-filled Styrofoam box or insulated cooler to keep the ice from melting and the fish from getting warm.
Fresh Fish Should Be Stored at What Temperature?
Keep your refrigerator temperature at 40 F or below (4.4 C). If the fish needs refrigeration until you prep it for freezing, keep it on ice during refrigeration to ensure the fish will stay fresh. Fresh fish only lasts in the refrigerator for up to two days so you will need to freeze it quickly or it may spoil.
Once the fish is ready for freezing, assure your freezer temperature is at 0 F or colder (18 C).
How Long Can Fish Stay Frozen?
You can keep most properly frozen fish in the freezer from three to eight months. Certain fish species have shorter freezer lives than others. As a rule, because of their fat consistency, trout, salmon, bluefish and herring only have up to a three-month shelf life in the freezer before turning bad.
If you have any of those fish species in your freezer, give them precedence when meal planning as you will want to use those up first.
Transporting Fresh Fish – How to Move Fish across Country
You can transport fish in a variety of ways. It depends on how quickly you need it to reach its destination and how far it must travel. Once packaged correctly for transit, it can ship via rail, sea, air or road.
State to state within the U.S., the U.S. Postal Service provides fast service at affordable rates. Since speed is of the essence for transporting fish, opt for their Priority or Express service for smaller packages.
If you need to ship large parcels of fish, ship with UPS or FedEx. UPS has the best reputation for the heavier shipments, while FedEx is notorious for overnight deliveries.
Preparing Fresh or Frozen Fish for Shipping
Your fish must stay fresh during transport; therefore, proper packaging is essential to its preservation. It is not something you want to rush through.
When shipping fresh or frozen fish, the inside packaging is just as integral as the outer shipping container; for example, placing the fish into an insulated Styrofoam cooler with ice packs, gel packs or dry ice. Once the cooler is secure, place it into a corrugated shipping box.
For added protection, place insulated liners around the inside of the fresh or frozen fish shipping boxes to soak up any melting ice that could cause water damage to the outer box. Additionally, the extra insulation and lining protects the inner container from shifting during transport.
Consult Your Carrier Regulations Concerning Packaging Regulations
Experienced carriers who frequently transport fish have regulations to follow for allowable cooling and packing materials, specifically for wet and dry ice. If you are unsure about properly packing your fish, consult with the carrier so you stay within their shipping guidelines.
Insurance is Vital to Safe Transport and Delivery
Regardless of your choice of carrier, and considering that fish is extremely perishable, it is imperative to purchase shipping insurance. While it may cost a little extra in shipping costs, it guarantees against any damage of your shipment during transport.
Online Shipping Software Reduces Your Shipping Costs
Most carriers today offer discounted rates to customers who ship via their online sites. FedEx, UPS and the USPS all provide online shipping with certain ranges of postage discounts of which to take advantage and cut your costs.
Whether you ship via air, road, rail or sea, shipping software allows you to keep track of where your packages are during transit and the expected date of delivery. Most online shipping software provides transit or tracking information to the destination or receiver, also allowing them to track the shipment.As mentioned earlier, always consult the carriers about their guidelines for shipping fresh and frozen fish to ensure you stay within their regulations before you start the shipping process. This will ensure a smooth and stress-free process from preparing to packaging and shipping fresh fish.