LogisticsDemocratising the transport of frozen fish: from the hold to the container.

1 October, 2018by MARITIMA CONSIFLET

Since Charles Tellier, the French engineer, modified a steam vessel to transport refrigerated freight for the first time at the end of the 19th century, the reefer transport sector has greatly evolved.

The appearance of the refrigerated container has ousted the reefer vessels, which have declined in number year on year. The key points of this trend should be sought in the greater flexibility and lower costs offered by container transport. Fishing fleets no longer have to invest in costly reefer vessels, their fishing boats just need to go to port and unload their cargo to the reefer containers. Once correctly loaded, they then can be distributed directly to one or several points of the world; while the fishing fleet continues to operate. This new distribution system helps to ensure that the products are sent out in a more organised, quick, cost-efficient and effective way.

This ongoing transfer in the fishing sector, from the reefer vessel to the container, is possible thanks to the significant investments by the main fishing companies to provide a quality and secure service to the customer by the fishery and agri-food sector in general.

Nowadays, the container fleet can ensure:

  • A controlled atmosphere to prevent the goods from deteriorating.
  • Constant temperatures, even with outisde temperatures of up to 50 ºC
  • Reducing the relative humidity within the container.
  • And a factor that cannot be overlooked in order to be competitive on the market, which is protecting the environment by means of using CFC-free coolants, resulting in a lower product carbon footprint.


Fish is an extremely sensitive and highly valuable product and it is therefore fundamental for it to be correctly stowed in the container. Let us look as some recommendations:

  • Before loading the container, make sure that:
    • The inside of the container is completely clean, ventilated and in a perfect state of repair
    • The correct packaging is used for each type of cargo. In this regard, it should be noted that plastic packaging can prevent air from circulating around the product.
    • The product is correctly placed in the boxes to avoid obstructions that can cause “hot spots” due to the lack of cold air flow.
    • The product is loaded at the temperature at which it has to be transported, as a container does not freeze, it only keeps the product cold.
  • How to load the container correctly:
    • The cooling system of the container must be switched off to avoid the ambient air getting in.
    • Boxes must not be piled up higher than the load line: to prevent the cargo from shifting and, what is very important, to make sure that the air will circulate optimally around the cargo. Poor air circulation within the container can cause the product to deteriorate.
    • Appropriate cooling is based on the air circulating freely around the whole cargo. Therefore:
      • Free spaces have to be avoided as far as possible, even on the floor, to prevent a negative impact on the air flow.
      • Do not place the freight in front of the unit’s air distribution points.
  • Once the container loading operation is completed:
    • Make sure that the doors are closed propertly.
    • Adjust the transport temperature.
    • Switch on the reefer cooling system.

At MARÍTIMA CONSIFLET, we have a proven track record in transporting fish in containers, from-to anywhere in the world, we embrace your needs and are sure that together we can find the best solution for your needs.