Domestic fishmeal production and feed from the Baltic Sea is a good example of a successful Government key project in the field of blue bioeconomy. Based on a study by the Natural Resources Institute Finland, the new fishmeal plant has significant economic impacts: the Kasnäs fishmeal production line opens an important domestic market for Baltic herring and brings both turnover and jobs to the archipelago municipalities. The recycling of nutrients is beneficial for the environment as well.
A total of EUR 6.5 million euros was invested in the fishmeal plant, about half of this from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The Natural Resources Institute Finland estimates that the plant will bring an annual turnover of EUR 8–12 million and 10 new jobs to the area. In addition to this, the plant employs people indirectly in primary production, transport and feed manufacturing. The total impact of the plant will be in the order of EUR 27–47 million and 50 jobs.
– This investment in the fishmeal plant and feed from the Baltic Sea are highly important for the regional economy, and they create new sustainable growth opportunities for the whole Finnish fisheries sector. They also improve our self-sufficiency in fish and protein and the balance of trade. This is why it is a question of an investment of strategic importance for fisheries in Finland, says Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of Agriculture and the Environment.
The fishmeal and fish oil to be manufactured in the new plant will be used as raw material for fish feed. The plant will buy about 30–40 million kilos of fish per year.
– In the early part of the year the domestic prices for the fish feed raw material were about five cents higher than the prices of the raw material for feed for fur animals. Each additional cent to the average price paid for Baltic herring would add EUR 300 000 to 400 000 to the annual output of the fishing sector, says Jari Setälä, Researcher at the Natural Resources Institute Finland.
Nutrient recycling contributes to more sustainable food production and a cleaner Baltic Sea
The nutrient balance of fish farming in the Baltic Sea region may be neutral with regard to the loading potential if fish is reared using feed made from fish caught from the Baltic Sea. Now it is possible for fish farmers to start using domestic fishmeal originating in the Baltic Sea.
The economic benefits to the national economy are the greatest if the production of fish farms grows in line with the National Aquaculture Strategy. An increase in the production by ten million kilos would bring an estimated EUR 40 million and about 400 new jobs to the coastal regions. With all the indirect impacts included this would mean a total of EUR 120 million and about 1 400 new jobs.
The Government is also taking other action to promote the recycling of nutrients in fish farming. In spring 2016 a pilot project was launched where entrepreneurs, researchers and public authorities are testing the application of new steering instruments that are beneficial for both the fisheries industry and the environment in the environmental permit procedures concerning fish farming. Among the issues to be taken into account is the use of feed from the Baltic Sea.