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K. Salojarvi
Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute
Helsinki, Finland


Fish stocking plays a central role in fisheries management in Finland. In 1981 the total value of stockings was about 25 million FIM (U.S.$ 6.3 million), of which nearly 5 million (U.S.$ 1.3 million) was spent on stocking with whitefish. Much of the stocking was financed by the State, even though almost all inland fishing waters are privately owned (about 85 percent). The objectives of whitefish stocking have been: to increase the quality and quantity of fish yield, to compensate for the damage caused by hydro-power plant construction, lake water level regulation and pollution, and to create employment opportunities in under-employment areas. Thus, in evaluating the results of whitefish stocking, we must take into consideration that better fish yield has been only one of the objectives.


Le repeuplement joue un rôle capital dans l'aménagement des pêches en Finlande. A la fin des années soixante-dix, la valeur totale du repeuplement était de l'ordre de 25 millions de marks (6.3 millions de dollars E.U.) et près de 5 million FIM (1.3 millions de dollars E.U.) étaient consacrée au poisson blanc. L'Etat finance une très grande partie de ces opérations, bien que 85 pour cent environ des eaux de pêche intérieures soient propriété privée. Les objectifs du repeuplement en poisson blanc sont les suivants: améliorer les rendements, en qualité et en quantité; compenser les dommages causés par la construction d'ouvrages hydro-électriques, la régulation du niveau des lacs et la pollution; créer des emplois pour résorber le chômage de certaines zones. L'amélioration des rendements n'était donc qu'un objectif parmi d'autres, ce dont il faut tenir compte lorsque l'on évalue les résultats du repeuplement. Au moment de planifier la stratégie future d'aménagement des pêches, il faudra notamment trouver le moyen le plus efficace de construire et d'utiliser des étangs où l'on élévera avec des aliments naturels des alevins destinés au repeuplement.


Mass-rearing of autumn whitefish fingerlings for stocking into natural waters was begun in Finland at the beginning of the sixties; since then, production has steadily increased (Salojarvi, 1982). In 1980 production was nearly 27 million autumn fingerlings (circa 130 t) (Eskelinen and Sumari, 1981).

The whitefish catch in 1980 was 3 502 t, of which catch from fresh waters was 1 325 t and the remaining 2 177 t were caught in the sea off the Finnish coast, mainly in the Gulf of Bothnia (Lehtonen, 1981). The present whitefish catch is larger than it was in the sixties (Sjoblom et al., 1980). It is evident that this is at least partly the result of stockings (Salojarvi, 1982).

This paper deals with goals and objectives, financing and the possible benefits of a large-scale whitefish stocking programme such as that carried out in Finland.


The Finnish judicial system is, in principle, the same as that of the other Scandinavian countries. Most bodies of water are jointly owned, waters within village limits are jointly owned by the landowners of the village; all waters outside village boundaries are owned by the State. Presently about 85 percent of all inland fishing waters are privately owned (Munne, 1980).

Fishing rights in Finland generally belong to the owners of the respective waters. The primary ownership unit is the village; and each landowner's share in the jointly owned water area and fishing rights depends on the size of his estate (Munne, 1980; Sjoblom et al., 1980).

According to the Fisheries Act (which comes into force in the beginning of 1983) the owners of fishing waters are responsible for the conservation and management of the fish stocks and are obliged under the law to form a fishing commune on a village basis for the management of the jointly owned waters. The fishing commune defines the extent of fishing rights for different shareholders. Fishing communes can transfer their obligations concerning fisheries management to a larger administrative unit of fisheries management, the so-called “Fisheries Area”. Fishing communes play an important role in the management of Fisheries Areas.

Government responsibility for both inland and marine fisheries in Finland is vested in the Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry. The majority of state-owned waters fall under the jurisdiction of the National Board of Forestry.

In the field of fisheries and fisheries management, there exist three government-sponsored organizations, the Federation of Finnish Fisheries Associations, the Federation of Finnish Recreational Fishermen's Associations and the Finnish Fish and Game Association.


Fisheries management in Finland is primarily financed by fishing communes (privately owned waters), the State and those (hydro-electric power companies, cities, industry, etc.) who have been ordered by the Water Courts to repair damage they have caused to fish stocks (obligatory stockings).

Much of the fisheries management work undertaken by the water owners cannot be estimated in monetary terms. In 1981 fishing communes spent circa 5.5 million FIM (circa U.S.$ 1.4 million) to buy fish larvae and fingerlings for stocking in natural waters.

The State fisheries budget for 1981 was circa 70 million FIM (U.S.$ 17.5 million). This sum includes inter alia 17 million FIM (U.S.$ 4.3 million) spent for the construction of new fish culture stations and natural food ponds.

In 1981 the Finnish Government spent roughtly 17 million FIM (U.S.$ 4.3 million) for fish culture and related activities (including purchases of stocking material from private fish cultivation companies). In the same year, the Government invested about the same amount in construction of new fish culture facilities. This means that rearing of stocking material for natural lakes and the sea will increase in the years to come.

The rearing of stocking material for obligatory stocking was just beginning in 1981; but obligatory stocking, especially for marine waters, is expected to increase in the next few years.

Estimated expenditures for direct fisheries management in Finland in 1981 were approximately 25 million FIM (U.S.$ 6.3 million), most of it for rearing stocking material. Taking into consideration the operational costs of State-owned natural food ponds and the known production of private whitefish cultivation companies, it can be estimated that roughly 5 million FIM (U.S.$ 1.3 million) was spent in 1981 for rearing whitefish fingerlings in State-owned natural food ponds and for purchases of whitefish stocking material from private fish-rearing companies.


In Finland, public spending for the management of fisheries exceeds the income received by the State from that sector of the economy. The income from the sale of State fishing licences is too low to cover costs, due to a desire to keep these licences inexpensive. This is justified for many reasons.

Most of the human stresses on naturally reproducing whitefish stocks (Table 1) arise as a result of action taken for the so-called “public benefit”. According to the Water Act, damage to fish stocks will, in principle, be compensated through obligatory stockings but in reality only part of the damage is compensated. Further the greater involvement of the Government in the cost of management is justified by the fact that fishing rights have been broadened in the Fisheries Act 1951 and 1982 to encompass fishermen who own no fishing waters (recreational fishermen). Whitefish stockings are a good method of compensation in this respect, because most of the catch is taken with different kinds of gill nets (Lehtonen and Salojarvi 1978, 1982; Salojarvi and Lehtonen, 1980) and according to the Finnish Fisheries Act gill net fishing is controlled by owners of the waters.

It is also logical that Government would ensure the preservation of the fish stocks that are in danger of extinction. Because the short-term benefit of this preservation is small, it is not generally undertaken by any private enterprise or person, who do not consider it to be in their interest.

In addition to the conservation and compensation for damage to natural fish stocks and public involvement in private ownership, it is possible to achieve many other benefits through stocking (Table 2). These benefits (employment, income, etc.) are not only important for certain special interest groups, they are also important for society as a whole, because they help in maintaining the social infrastructure and social well-being in a given region.

Therefore, in evaluating the usefulness of the whitefish stocking programme, it is necessary to take into consideration that better fish yield has been only one of the objectives although the measurement of benefits presents certain difficulties.


The present Fisheries Act (1982) tends to promote the achievement of as high a productivity of fishing waters as possible on a sustained basis. In allocating fish resources, professional fishing has first priority.

The high investment costs involved in the construction of the natural food ponds used for rearing one-summer old whitefish fingerlings for stocking in natural waters results in a fisheries management strategy based on stocking. In many cases, for example in northern Finland, only restricted possibilities exist for rearing other fish than whitefish in the natural food ponds. In that sense the chosen strategy is rather inflexible. Further, this means that fisheries regulations must be based on whitefish in order to gain as high a yield as possible from stockings.

It has been shown that the stocking programme has increased the whitefish catch in northern Finland (Salojarvi, 1982) but it is possible to achieve an even higher yield. At present, the most important whitefish stocks in northern Finland are over-exploited (Toivonen et al., 1981; Salojarvi, 1982). This is probably also the case in southern Finland and even in the sea (Lehtonen, 1981). Thus, it is possible to achieve a higher yield by restricting the mesh size of gill nets and the fishing season. In multi-species fisheries these measures will also affect the catch of other species, how it is not yet known. This depends on the development of fishing using such gear as different hooks, wire traps, fyke nets, etc.

Professional fishing, especially in inland lakes, is presently in a crisis of profitability. The whitefish stocking programme can help somewhat in this respect, because any additional catch is very valuable as a marginal catch. On the other hand, stocking with whitefish fingerlings can create social pressure on professional fishermen using seine nets. A small amount of juvenile whitefish is caught by the seines which is unacceptable to subsistence and recreational fishermen who use gill nets. At present, the whitefish catch is not very important economically for professional fishermen, with the exception of the Inari region of northern Finland. How much professional whitefish fishing will increase in Finland depends to a large extent on the fishing regulations which will be adopted.


Eskelinen, U. and O. Sumari, 1981 Kalanviljely Suomessa vuonne, 1980. Suomen kalankasvattaja, 4(1981): 21–3

Lehtonen, H., 1981 Biology and stock assessments of Coregonids by the Baltic coast of Finland. Finn.Fish.Res., 3:31–83

Lehtonen, H. and K. Salojarvi, 1978 Kotitarve- ja virkistyskalastus Suomessa vuonna 1975. Suomen Kalatalous, 48:41–55

Lehtonen, H., 1982 Kotitarve- ja virkistyskalastus Suomessa vuonna 1978. Suomen Kalatalous, (in press)

Loftus, K.H. et al., 1980 A necessary new strategy for allocation Ontario's fishery resources. International Symposium on Fishery Resources Allocation, Vichy, France, 20–24 April 1980 (mimeo)

Munne, P., 1980 Country review, Finland. International Symposium on Fishery Resources Allocation, Vichy, France, 20–24 April 1980 (mimeo)

Salojarvi, K., 1982 Results and profitability of whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus L.) stockings in Northern Finland. Paper presented to the EIFAC Symposium on Stock enhancement in the management of freshwater fisheries. Budapest, Hungary, 31 May–5 June 1982. Rome, FAO EIFAC/XII/82/Symp.10 (mimeo)

Salojarvi, K. and H. Lehtonen, 1980 Subsistence and recreational fisheries in Finland. International Symposium on Fishery Resources Allocation, Vichy, France, 20–24 April 1980 (mimeo)

Sjoblom, V. et al., 1980 Kalatalous/Fiskerihushallning/Fisheries. Suomen Kartasto, 233:12–20

Toivonen, J. et al., 1981 Verkkojen alimman silmakoon maarittaminen Inarinjarven kalastuksessa. (Selection of the minimum mesh size for gill nets in the fishery of Lake Inarinjarvi). Riista-ja Kalatalouden Tutkimuslaitos Kalantutkimusosasto Tiedon., 17:12–30

Table 1 List of human stresses on naturally reproducing whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) populations in Finland (after Loftus et al., 1980)

  2.Introductions of exotic species
  3.Microcontaminants, toxic wastes and biocides, from industry and agriculture
  4.Nutrients and eutrophication from sewage plants, agricultural and urban run-off
  5.Organic inputs and oxygen demand from pulp and paper mills, factories, sewers, etc.
  6.Sediment loading and turbidity from agriculture, construction sites and resuspension
  7.Stream modification: dams, channelization and logging, changes in land use
  8.Dredging of rivers
  9.Water level control for electric power production, wetland management, etc.
10.Ditching and draining of wetlands
11.Weather modification, mostly industrial
12.Acids and toxic chemicals carried in the atmosphere

Table 2 Benefits, benefit groups and units of measurement that can be used in evaluating the significance of natural food ponds used for rearing whitefish autumn fingerlings

BenefitBenefit groupUnits of measurement
Employment- Pond constructionNumber of persons employed
- Professional fishing
- Secondary industry and services
- Pond management
IncomeSame groups as in Employment aboveGross sales or earnings and gross amount of money used on services
Food- SubsistenceA reliable source of food and variety of edible fish (kg of fish consumed per caput)
- Recreational
- Purchasers
RecreationalResident fishermen (subsistence and recreational)A continuous supply and access variety of recreational opportunities
Retention of social infrastructureAll residentsSocial well-being (healthy society)
Conservation of natural fish stocksAll residents including consumers and non-consumersAvailability or sustained supply of utilizable natural resource

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