Lapland fish has a strong demand and the market area is Finland as a whole. The reason is that the quality and reputation of the fish produced here is excellent. Also, the popularity of local food and municipal decisions to favor local food produced will increase demand. The demand is now higher than what the fishermen can offer. The reason for this is not the weakness of fish stocks or the difficulty of obtaining quotas, but a decrease in the number of fishermen. Lapland fishermen are looking forward to working with fearless new enthusiasts.
Sodankylä shows an example
There were still 25 full-time fishermen for a dozen years ago. As a result of the retirements, the number has slowly declined and now it is no more than 15. The decline in the number of fishermen started to worry the municipality when they began inquiring from the fishermen co-operative for its ability to supply fisheries products to the central kitchen.
The co-operative proposed to the municipality that new fishermen should be actively recruited, otherwise the municipalitys’ plans to increase the use of local food are on hollow grounds. The municipality took the concerns of fishermen very seriously, and with wide variety of partners began to think about what could be done. The joined forces included the cooperative, the municipality, local public employment and business services, the Sámi Education Center and the Lapland FLAG. Maria Saarinen from Archipelago FLAG also participated in one meeting and told about the experiences of the Livia Vocational Colleges’ master and the apprentice -project.
The joint discussions concluded that before the recruitment begins the manifold requirements of starting commercial fisheries need to be met. The municipality received funding from the FLAG for a preliminary study project, which not only investigated the practical organization of recruitment, but also experimented with informing. The fish school tour, social media and the stories in the traditional media resulted in a surprisingly big amount of contacts. As a result, in Sodankylä’s reservoir lakes employ now three new brisk fishermen.
On the basis of the preliminary project, the municipality and the cooperative felt it was clear that there was a clear need for the actual recruitment project. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry also expressed its support for such activity. Encouraged by this, the project was applied for funding under Article 29 of EMFF. However, this did not succeed, so the municipality turned to the FLAG. The project suited perfectly the group’s development strategy, and the group agreed to fund unanimously.
The recruitment project is now starting, and one has still time to get on board. Experienced fishermen will guide new entrepreneurs in navigating the reservoirs, fishing techniques and fish handling. If necessary, help is also provided in accommodation and paperwork, such as registration to fisherman. For more information, please contact Marjaana Aarnio (040-560 470) from Sodankylä.
Fishermen are neede also elsewhere in Lapland
In the area of the Lapland FLAG there are approved fish processing facilities in Sodankylä, Pello and Inari. Facilities of Kemijärvi are currently being applied of approval. In all of these areas, new enthusiastic entrepreneurs are needed to improve the security of fish supply. For more information, contact the FLAG animator (Markku Ahonen, 040-704 094, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Text: Markku Ahonen