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Cross-border collaboration to develop freshwater fisheries

Last week scientists, managers and business representatives from Russia, Finland and Norway met to share experiences on the development of freshwater fisheries. The meeting, that was held at Svanhovd outside Kirkenes, was attended by 30 people. The welcome talk was by Snorre Hagen, the director of Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy (NIBIO) and following up from this Rune Rautio informed about the research project which was the background for the meeting. He explained about the objective of the project which is to utilize the freshwater fish resources in Finnmark for commercial and tourist fisheries. From Finnish Finland we learned about commercial inland fisheries from Markku Ahonen, Fisheries Coordinator Pohjosin Lappi (Northern Lapland), Inare. He explained the organisation of commercial fisheries in Finland and the importance of «fish halls» for handling catch but also the challenges related to the prohibitions of processing the catch in these facilities (salting, smoking or marinating)

From Northwest Russia, Anatoli Lukin, Director of the State Research Institute of Lake and River Fisheries (GosNIORH), St Petersburg/Petrozavodsk described the development of inland fisheries in Northwest Russia from end of the XIX century, analysed current status and challenges, and gave scientifically based recommendations for a future sustainable development of freshwater fisheries.»Dmitry Denisov, scientist at the Laboratory of water ecosystems, North Industrial Ecology Problems (INEP) reported from monitoring of the long-term changes of freshwater ecosystems of Russia-Norway-Finland border area. This is a collaborative project in which also Akvaplan-niva has been a long-term partner. The overall conclusion from this project is that there are severe challenges related to multiple stressors to this ecosystem due to the combined effect from climate change, anthropogenic pollutants and eutrophication in the Pasvik water system.

After the presentation of Denisov the meeting changed to a focus on Norway and Jon Løyland, board member of HANEN, an association for food and tourism operators, held a talk on farm tourism, farm food and freshwater fishing. He highlighted the challenges related to recruiting young people to work in commercial inland fisheries as well as challenges related to both processing facilities and the lack of sales operators. Øystein Aas from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) followed up with a critical view on the prospects for making profitable business operations based on freshwater fish stocks in the Barents Region. Aas focused on the many challenges related to the development of freshwater fisheries. In his talk he presented the many projects on freshwater fisheries that the Norwegian government has initiated from the 1980’s and argued for the importance of including the «lessons learn» from these in further planning for utilization of freshwater fish resources in Finnmark.

As to the status of freshwater fish stocks in Finnmark county Per-Arne Amundsen (UiT The Arctic University of Tromsø) and Paul Eric Aspholm (NIBIO) presented existing knowledge in the field, concluding that there is a potential for commercial inland fisheries however adding that Norway at present does not have a monitoring system for assessing freshwater stocks.

From this session on the state of freshwater fish resources, Kåre Tannvik from Kirkenes Snowhotel and senior advisor from Akvaplan-niva Trude Borch changed the focus of the session from commercial capture fisheries through presenting opportunities and challenges related to the development of fishing and food tourism on the basis of freshwater resources in Finnmark.

After this presentation of the prospects for developing tourism experiences from freshwater fish stocks, Marit Eggen from FeFo and Hans Fredrik Ravna from the Saami Parliament explaining what could be the role of the two respective institutions in the development of commercial activity on the basis of freshwater resources in Finnmark.

The meeting ended by presentations by Merete Susan Andersen (Innovasjon Norge) ,Mikal Lanes (Regional Research Fund Northern-Norway) and Stig Ulvang (Sør-Varanger Municipality) on the the available financial tools in the development of freshwater fisheries in Finnmark.

Photo: Anatoli Lukin, Director of the State Research Institute of Lake and River Fisheries (GosNIORH), St Petersburg/Petrozavodsk.