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Story | 04/09/2019 07:00:51

UPM supports restoration of migrating fish stocks

The UPM migratory fish programme aims to dismantle migration barriers and test new ways to restore fish stocks all around Finland. The programme is based on collaboration with stakeholders.

UPM and ELY Centre for Central Finland have dismantled migration barriers in Multia, Central Finland. The aim is to turn the Myllypuro river into a functioning reproduction area for trout between two lakes. The old culvert of the river-crossing has previously formed a barrier, stopping fish from migrating upriver. The old concrete culvert has now been renewed with a modern steel pipe, the steep rapid has been made more gradual and more high-quality breeding areas have been added.

The Laurinvirta project in North-eastern Finland promotes the natural reproduction of the highly endangered landlocked freshwater salmon of Saimaa. The freshwater salmon in Lake Saimaa in North Karelia, Finland, have been unable to reproduce naturally for 50 years. In the project, Kuurnan Voima is building a small power plant on the flood dam at the top of the floodway. This will keep the water level high enough for the salmon without hindering power generation too much.

A submerged weir is planned for the mid-section of the floodway, as well as a network of channels and bars to mitigate the effects of fluctuating water levels on the fish habitat. 

A dedicated five-hectare area in the Pielisjoki River has been reserved exclusively for spawning, allowing mature landlocked salmon to swim upriver to the floodway of the Kuurna power plant without human intervention. The breeding and reproduction area is expected to be ready in the autumn of 2019. If the project stays on schedule, fish might be seen swimming upriver to spawn in the area next autumn!

The programme encourages collaboration

“UPM has a wealth of experience in ensuring the diversity of woodland nature. Headwater regions are significant areas for diversity of water systems and they are often located in areas where forestry holds a prominent position. When making forestry measures water resources are protected, for example by allocating protected areas along the water resources and with other water protection methods. This project gives us valuable experience and knowledge in how we can utilise culvert solutions, which are built with fishes in mind,” says Sami Oksa, Director of Stakeholder Relations at UPM Wood Sourcing and Forestry.

So far, migration barriers have also been removed in Viitasaari in Central Finland in the company's fish migration programme. Also, a fish hatchery has been built in the Kokemäenjoki river in Western Finland and piloting of a new fish passage innovation in the Kemijoki river in Northern Finland has been financed.

The effectiveness of the measures will be monitored for several years. We continuously seek and review new target areas to be included in the programme. The fish migration programme has received significant financial support from UPM’s Biofore Share and Care programme. Responsible water use is one of the programme’s four focus areas.


Text: Geni Raitisoja

Photography:  Jorma Piironen; Natural Resources Institute Finland