Saving our joint treasure: sustainable trout fisheries for the transborder Oulunka river system (KA531)
Funded by Karelia ENPI 2007-2013
Objective of the project
The project aimed to produce well-being for people living in the Koillismaa and Karelia regions in Finland and Russia by ensuring sustainable use and healthy status of the migratory brown trout (Salmo trutta) populations in the Oulanka River system. The goal was to be achieved by developing, through collaboration of Finnish and Russian stakeholders, a model for the joint management of the trout populations.
• Mapping the present size and movements of the migrating trout population. • Examining the socio-economic importance of the trout fisheries in the region. • Establishing a transborder, joint integrated management group for the fisheries. • Raising public awareness of the unique identity, life cycle and value of the Oulanka River trout.
Despite some unexpected complications brought about by Mother Nature and Fisheman Logic, the project succeeded well in producing reliable data on the state of the trout populations and their fishing pressure and in improving stakeholders’ awareness of the poor state of the Oulanka river system brown trout populations. In Kuusamo, local fishermen have long complained the poor brown trout catches, but it has been common to blame the situation on the fishing mortality that is on the increase in Russian parts of the river system. The project produced research data (fishing mortality, fishing pressure, population size) that clearly shows that recovery of the brown trout fisheries requires strong measures in all part of the rivers system, even in Finland. As an unforeseen result (not anticipated/planned in the logframe) the project data revealed that planting of juvenile hatchery-reared fish is not economically viable or even effective method to increase the number of the spawning population. Previously, in absence of any scientific data on survival of hatchery-reared juveniles, most fishermen were confident that plantings are the most efficient remedy to the decline of the brown trout in Oulanka river system. The project’s results showed that the confidence is not justified: reducing fishing mortality and improving the conditions for natural spawning really are the only available efficient means to safeguard the native brown trout populations. To set an example for other fishing rights owners, Metsähallitus decided to take immediate action to safeguard the worst-faring, River Oulankajoki trout stock by banning trout fishing at least for five years in Oulanka National Park and to ban fishing of all species near Kiutaköngäs waterfall to ensure that the trout that congregate there are not disturbed before the spawning season. The project tried it’s best to initiate contacts with key Russian fisheries authorities, that are critical for practical implementation of the brown trout recovery plan and achievement of sustainable trout fisheries across the whole Oulanka river system. The progress made during the project period was not as good as was hoped by the most optimistic of the project staff, and the work to engage the key Russian authorities is continued by Metsähallitus. It may be regarded as an “unforeseen negative result” of the project that due to the project pushing its agenda for the FRCUFW, the FRCUFW delineated that fisheries management issues are outside its scope. On the other hand, the consequences of that delineation may actually improve the political prerequisites for joint management of transborder fisheries.
Duration2013-02-01 - 2014-12-31
Total Budget / Programme funding629 201 € / 575 089 €
Lead partnerMetsähallitus, Natural Heritage Services (NHS), Ostrobothnia
Lead partner web-site
PartnersNorthern Fisheries Research Institute (NFRI)
University of Oulu
Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute