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Responsibly built fish research and fish farming facilities modernise Laukaa's research infrastructure

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20.6.2022

The new fish research and fish farming facilities in Laukaa were officially opened on 14 June. The new facilities have been built according to sustainable principles – the old tanks have been refurbished and the hall will be powered by pellets and solar energy. The investment has provided Laukaa with internationally competitive research infrastructures.

Photo: Katja Mentula / Luke.

The fish farm in Laukaa has been rapidly modernised. In just a few years, one of the main research infrastructures of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) has been almost completely rebuilt. The modernisation will be finished in October, when the effluent treatment system will be completed in one of the new halls. On 14 June, the opening ceremony of the fish research and fish farming facilities was celebrated in Laukaa, as the summer sun beamed in its gentle warmth. Representatives from the Senate Properties, the municipality and the industry were present.

Linda Leinonen, Mayor of Laukaa, who attended the opening ceremony, said that the million-euro investment shows that Laukaa is a good partner for a research organisation like Luke. "The Laukaa fish farm is an impressive place. It is good for the Laukaa brand that we have such a cutting-edge, internationally significant fish farming and fish research facility. Big investments always create vitality and job security," says Leinonen.

A Responsibly Renewed Research Infrastructure

As Johanna Buchert, Director General of Luke, said in her opening speech, the € 6 million investment by Senate Properties has resulted in the responsible construction of modern infrastructure. Aquaculture research and the fish breeding programme have been equipped with modern fish rearing halls, not to forget the circular economy.

The new hall will have 240 family tanks, 20 rearing tanks and four broodstock tanks. The 30-year-old tanks have been refurbished to last for the next 30 years. According to Petri Heinimaa, a principal specialist at Luke, in addition to the circular economy aspect, another important factor was that new fibreglass tanks are difficult to obtain quickly and at reasonable cost in these times.

Modern robotic feeding systems and heating, cooling and cleaning systems bring the infrastructure to the present day. For wastewater, the transition to modernity has been made by connecting all halls to the municipal wastewater system. In terms of heating, fuel oil has been changed to pellets and solar panels will soon be installed on the rooftop.

The future holds the prospect of autumn spawning and international research

"As for the fish farms, one of the things that is still awaited is the furnishing of the hatchery. Once the new facilities are up and running, we will try to get rainbow trout to spawn in the autumn, for instance," says Heinimaa. An autumn hatch would facilitate the production cycle of the farm and also the summer holidays, as the early summer rearing stages currently require a lot of manual work.

Laukaa has its own significance for Luke's goal of increasing the international importance of its research infrastructures – after all, Laukaa now has the world's second oldest rainbow trout and the only whitefish selection breeding programme. After the modernisation, Laukaa will have competitive infrastructures that international researchers are hoping to find. The renovation will also play its part in Luke's ambition to become part of the European Roadmap for research infrastructures.

Rainbow trout getting rid of their spots

The infrastructure renewal in Laukaa is partly the result of the closure of the Tervo site in 2017 and the transfer of its operations to Laukaa and Enonkoski. The return of selective breeding to its roots created a need for infrastructure development. Over the years, rainbow trout spots have decreased and heads have shrunk as a result of breeding. Now, in the midst of modern fish farming technology, 30-year-old tanks are swarming with fish whose genetic heritage is known as far back as 1992.