Finland imports considerably more fish than it produces or catches. Two-thirds of all salmonids consumed in Finland are farmed outside the country, principally in Norway or Sweden.
Globally, the volume of fish farming has increased by approximately 2 billion kilos annually. In 2015, the global production of fish farming exceeded that of beef for the first time.
Domestic farmed fish is a healthy and safe choice
Of fish farmed for food, almost 95 per cent is rainbow trout. The fat composition of farmed rainbow trout is beneficial and such fish exhibit a low xenobiotic content. Through collaboration between fish farming operators and the Natural Resources Institute Finland, domestic production can be geared towards responding better to the requirements set by fish processing and consumers.
In Finland, around half of all fish used for food is produced in the Åland Islands. Efforts have been made to diversify food fish production, with Luke investigating opportunities for farming a fish species known as the nelma, which is native to Russia, in Finland.
Significant reduction in the environmental impact caused by fish farming
Nutrient discharge from fish farming may cause local eutrophication. However, the overall load has fallen by around 70 per cent compared to the early 1990s, due to improved feeding techniques and the development of feeds. As a proportion of the phosphorus load attributable to human action in mainland Finland, fish farming accounts for slightly more than one per cent and the nitrogen load for just over half a per cent of such a load.
Based on a national spatial planning for aquaculture, the farming of food fish is directed towards suitable water areas that take account of the environment and other users like summer cottage-based activities. The guiding principle is that a new fish farm must not endanger the achievement of water management goals and environmental targets set for the area in question. In particular, offshore areas in the Gulf of Bothnia are expected to offer new opportunities for growth of aquaculture.
Lukes aquaculture research areas are especially recirculating aquaculture systems, offshore farming and aqua-feeds.. Luke also produces statistical information on aquaculture. Data on fish farming is required by the fish farming industry and the fishery and environmental authorities. It may be used to develop farming methods, improve the profitability of business and enhance management of its environmental impact.
Photo at the top of the page: Markus Kankainen / Luke