Onboard ice generators are primarily used in large fishing vessels, leaving smaller ones tied to fishing terminals and ports to ensure access to ice-making machines. European researchers set out to develop a similar system suitable for smaller vessels with funding for the ‘Development of a low cost, low power consumption system for manufacturing ozonised fluid ice for fishing via absorption system’ (ICEMAKER) project. The Icemaker system produced liquid rather than conventional ice and eliminated the need for disinfected water as it contained an onboard ozone seawater pre-treatment process. In addition, the innovative refrigeration system used heat from the vessel’s engine via an absorption process. Small size in combination with use of the vessel’s heat resulted in reduced energy consumption. Careful evaluation of fish quality demonstrated no damage to fish skin due to ozone pre-treatment or use of liquid ice. Thus, the ICEMAKER project delivered a novel compact, energy-efficient and low-cost ice generator for small and medium-sized fishing vessels that provides them with greater flexibility in terms of fishing location. In addition, the innovative refrigeration system could be applicable to many other industries. Application of the results should enhance the competitiveness of smaller fishing vessels and extend the varieties of fish they can provide.