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Frozen at Sea

Frozen at Sea production is now considered to be the best and most consistent source of supply to the UK’s fish and chip shops.  The Fish is caught, processed, filleted and frozen at sea on board a number of modern trawlers fishing in the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea and the North Atlantic.

Benefits of Frozen at Sea

















Freshness, nutrients and taste are retained without compromising quality

Consistent high quality of taste

Price is relatively stable

Extended shelf-life for preserving and storing the product

Provides supply throughout the year, eliminating seasonal fluctuations
 Minimal wastage as fish can be defrosted as and when required

The Process

Long Line

Longline Trawlers (Line Caught)

This process requires fish to be caught on individual hooks strung on long fishing lines. The hooks are baited and lines are released very quickly. Thousands of hooks are set each day and the retrieval and setting of them is a continuous 24 hour a day operation.

The fish is processed to specification on board and then frozen within 5-6 hours of catch.

Line caught fillets are sold as premium products because their method used during catch ensures an unrivalled quality of product.

Trawl Net

Freezer Trawlers

A funnel-shaped, wide-mouthed net is attached to the vessel by long wire ropes fixed to either side of the nets mouth. The net is pulled along by the vessel, with the fish eventually being caught.

Electronic sensors inform the skipper when the net is sufficiently full so that it can be hauled in, avoiding any damage to the fish.  The net is then mechanically pulled in and onto the deck of the vessel where it is emptied and the fish then sent on for immediate production.

Fish is processed to specification on board and then frozen within hours of being caught.

Factory freezer trawlers can be between 60 and 70 meters in length and go to sea for up to six weeks at a time with a crew of 35 people.

Onboard fishmeal plants process the waste product so everything can be utilised and sold.

A useful analogy to FAS fish is that of frozen peas. “Fresh as the moment when the pod went pop” was Birdseye’s slogan during their advertising campaign. This went a long way in changing public view of what is now a household staple and one of the great success stories of modern day food manufacturing. It really is exactly the same scenario with the FAS filleting process.

Smales Product Guide 2017/2018



  • Since 1982, my family have been putting their heart & soul in to making the very best fish & chips, winning many industry awards in that time.  I believe that finding suppliers who are willing to go that extra mile for you is an essential foundation for any successful business, and Smales have have definitely been that for us.

    Dave HenninghanHennighans Top Shop
  • We have been serving our famous fish & chips for more than three decades and Smales have been a key supplier throughout that time. As well as providing me with the highest quality Cod & Haddock all year round, they have been very supportive in our entries in the Fish & Chip Awards, sourcing MSC sustainable products and even providing their staff to sing at our annual charity events!

    David HanburyHanbury's Fish & Chips
  • My passion for setting high standards for the great British fish & chip industry, and the quality of our product has always been the driving force behind Our Plaice. To deliver the best you have to consistently demand the best from your suppliers – something I know I can rely on Smales to provide.

    Gregg HowardOur Plaice
  • Smales have supplied Chez Fred since we opened in 1989, and throughout that time they have been a supplier who I know and trust to provide the service and quality I expect. We are always striving to give people the best fish and chip experience possible and we work hard to promote the sustainability of the fish we source. Smales have certainly helped us to deliver a quality product every time.

    Fred CapelChez Fred
  • Harlees is a third generation family business with passion for quality, freshness and value-for-money.  We currently have eight branches so continuity of supply and reliability are crucial in making sure we are able to offer our customers the product they have come to expect.  After dealing with Smales for more than 20 years, I know I can trust them to have the quality of product & service we need all year round.

    Richard LongHarlees Fish and Chips
  • At Kingfisher we have made a commitment to ensure the fish we serve is sustainable and always sourced from well managed fish stocks. Smales have been a long standing supplier who were extremely helpful during the process of us gaining our MSC Chain Of Custody, and continue to provide us with the widest choice of MSC certified Cod in the market. They are able to help us source sustainable products and can even trace fish back to the day it was caught.

    Craig MawKingfisher Fish and Chips