AK Sportfish Survives Desert Delays
Fellow gourmet anglers, I report the following in June, 2007:
Taking every precaution for proper fish-preservation including immediate gilling, and timely filleting and transport to commercial freezers while in Alaska, our Alaska sportcaught fish (halibut, kings and reds) were vacuum packed and frozen (VPF) at three sources on the Kenai Peninsula: AfishHunt in Ninilchik, Peninsula Processing in Soldotna, and Captain Jack's in Seward. AfishHunt's shoddy VPF process required about 40% to be re-vacuumed and others are still questionable. The quality of Peninsula Processing's work was excellent with 100% of the packages extremely tightly packed with no air. Captain Jack's work was also excellent, but Mark there deserves extra acclaim by accommodating our late night drop off (after 11pm) and very short notice last drop off of fish to be added to our order on the morning we left (with pickup in one hour). They delivered a perfectly vac-packed fish with the most professionalism and economy and even band-strapped our box and cooler securely.
Our fish was tightly packed in our fish boxes: one a recycled box from Ed's Kasilof with a two-piece "AquaPak" styrofoam box inside cardboard and the other a Coleman 40-qt cooler. All of this VPF'd fish was tightly packed with newspaper and the AquaPak contained two gel packs. While I should have been able to fill the Coleman with reds (curse my un-landed ratio this time), its volume was supplemented with one gel pack, two sets of waders and my laptop, tightly packed.
Removing the fish from freezers, we drove from Seward to Anchorage and, checked as baggage in first class (to gain the 70-lb per box privilege and other accommodations (like checking one more large bag as a courtesy), we alit in 5 hours. We had to sign a waiver for potential spoilage due to any delays in transit. I assume the high-elevation flight of 6.5 hours to Vegas was mostly cold storage in the cargo hold. Landing in Vegas 11.5 hours into fish transit , USAirways cancelled our next flight (mechanical) requiring our fish to change planes and delayed departure of our flight to Phoenix for another 4 hours. One hour later in Phoenix, our ground transit took another 1.5 hrs for a total out-of-freezer time of 18 hours with a third of that in 100-degree heat.
Upon arrival home, the fish was almost entirely still hard-frozen, with the exception of those last reds which Cap'n Jack's VPF'd for only one hour and even those were still very nicely cold. Now safely in our cold storage, everything is still sushi-grade!
I'd like to know exactly how long fish cared for and transported in this way can last without any damage. By knowing the bounds of the heating curves, one’s mind could be at peace, free from anxiety about their precious fish if it encounters any significant delays in 100-degree heat.
Has anyone already seen any published graphs or tables of thermodynamic data related to the transport of sportcaught fish and/or have any other related experiences more extreme than mine?
Keith C. Evanson, PhD.
Med Laser Sourcing, LLC
Enjoy the Alaskan treat in the evening when the temp at 1 AM is still 100f!
Come back and see us soon!