Baltic Fish

Sustainable fish stock management of underused fishes helps the eutrophicated Baltic Sea, and provides consumers with a new, climate and waterway-friendly source of protein. In 2019, encouraged by Finland’s successful Local Fishing project, the John Nurminen Foundation, Race for the Baltic, Guldhaven Pelagiska, Rädda Lumparn, and Ålands Fiskarförbund joined forces to launch the Baltic Fish project, which seeks to commercialize the fish stock management of cyprinids also in Åland and Sweden. The Baltic Fish project is co-financed by the Finnish and Swedish governments’ Baltic Sea Action Plan Trust Fund, which in turn is managed by the Nordic environmental financing company NEFCO.

Underused domestic fish can help the Baltic Sea to recover and provide a new sustainable protein source

Fishing is an effective large-scale method to recycle nutrients from the Baltic Sea to land and helps improve the health of eutrophied waters. Cyprinid fish, such as bream, roach and ide, thrive in eutrophied waters and are found in excess in the Baltic Sea. While the cyprinid fish is both healthy and tasty, there no longer is a tradition of eating it in many Baltic Sea countries.  Besides being a very cost-efficient measure to combat eutrophication, the cyprinid fish provides a new revenue stream for local fisheries and a healthy and responsible local protein source to end consumers. Moreover, in creating income for local fisheries, fishing cyprinids help to maintain the traditional livelihood of coastal fishing, which is an integral part of the Swedish and Finnish archipelago culture.

Baltic Fish -project walks in the footsteps of the Local Fishing -project

Finland has taken a head start in fishing cyprinid fish for human consumption. In 2015, the John Nurminen Foundation launched a project to commercialize cyprinid fish from the Baltic Sea for human consumption. First commercial bream products were on the market in 2017. Following the project’s great success, Finnish and Swedish organizations including Race For The Baltic, Guldhaven Pelagiska, Rädda Lumparn, Ålands Fiskarförbund and the Foundation have expanded management fishing to Åland Islands and Sweden.

The Baltic Fish project will work closely with local authorities to create rules for sustainable management fishing and monitoring of fishing practices. Moreover, the project will collaborate with commercial producers and partners to establish well-functioning production chains and commercialization of the products. The project gives an excellent opportunity to launch sustainably sourced local fish products into the Swedish market and to meet increasing consumer demands for environmentally friendly seafood.

Developments in the project

Sweden

Fishing bream in Kalix. Photo: Marie Sparréus
  • The first catches were caught in test fishing activities in cooperation with The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in the summer of 2019
  • The first product, bream patty for institutional kitchens, was launched on the Swedish market in December 2019.
  • During the winter two stakeholder events were held to discuss the rules of fishing and monitoring. The rules were completed in the spring. County Regional Boards are responsible for monitoring the fishing within the project.
  • Breaded fish patty, fish burger and minced bream are available for institutional kitchens. Fishermen in Gotland working in cooperation with the project, whom have their own local ide patty available in supermarkets, also joined the project and signed contracts with Race For The Baltic.
  • In the autumn of 2020, the braxen.nu website was launched. It provides comprehensive information about the Baltic Fish project.
  • The carbon footprint of cyprinid fish caught in the Gulf of Bothnia has been calculated in conjunction with the RISE Institutes of Sweden. According to the preliminary result, 1 kg of roach and ide mass produces 1 kg of CO2 emissions, which makes it a climate-wise alternative to the dining table.

Åland Islands

Harriet Strandvik and Fredrik Engström are presenting the popular bream burgers at the Skördefest. Photo: Therese Andersson
  • Fishing started on a small scale in the summer of 2019, and the food made from the resulting minced bream was served especially at a lunch restaurant in Mariehamn the following autumn and winter.
  • In the spring of 2020, the rules of fishing were discussed with various stakeholders and it was decided that no separate rules were needed for the management of cyprinid fish.
  • The actual test fishing started in May 2020 when two tons of fish were caught.
  • School kitchens and other institutional kitchens have been interested in minced bream.
  • An informative video has been produced presenting the journey of a bream from the sea to the dining table. The video will be used in the marketing of the project and especially in school events.
  • The Baltic Fish project was officially launched in Åland in September at harvest festival Skördefest.
  • Read the latest news in Åland Islands on Rädda Lumparn’s webpage.

Further information:

John Nurminen Foundation

Marjukka Porvari
Director of the Clean Baltic Sea projects
John Nurminen Foundation
marjukka.porvari(at)jnfoundation.fi

Maija Salmiovirta
Project manager
John Nurminen Foundation
maija.salmiovirta(at)jnfoundation.fi

www.johnnurmisensaatio.fi

Race For The Baltic

Emma Gabrielsson
Project Manager
Race For The Baltic
Emma(at)raceforthebaltic.com
raceforthebaltic.com

Guldhaven Pelagiska AB

Teija Aho
CEO
Guldhaven Pelagiska AB
teija(at)guldhaven.se
http://guldhaven.se/fi/

Rädda Lumparn

Carina Aaltonen
Vice president
Föreningen Rädda Lumparn
Carina.aaltonen(at)lagtinget.ax

Ålands Fiskarförbund

Fredrik Lundberg
CEO
Ålands Fiskarförbund
fiskare(at)aland.net

NEFCO

Anja Nystén
Senior Manager, Fund Manager of the BSAP Fund
NEFCO
Anja.Nysten(at)nefco.fi
www.nefco.org