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Finland had a bumper year for aquaculture production in 2022, reaching its largest production volume since the end of the 1990s.

That’s according to aquaculture statistics published this week by Finland’s Natural Resources Institute (Luke), showing that Finland’s fish farmers produced around 16.3 million kilos of fish for human consumption – almost 2 million more than the previous year.

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According to the report, the value of production also increased in real terms, reaching 102 million euros – an increase of nearly 23 million euros from 2021.

By far the dominant speices was rainbow trout, at 15.3 million kilos, and the increase in Finland’s overall fish production is almost entirely explained by the extra 2 million kilos of trout produced in the country.

The remainder of the production was composed of European whitefish (0.8 million kilos) and other species (0.2 million kilos).

Åland Islands leads Finnish aquaculture production

According to the report, the largest segment of all food fish, 43%, or almost seven million kilos, were farmed in the Åland Islands.

“Production in the Åland Islands increased by slightly more than a million kilos from the previous year. This means that it returned to the level preceding the hemorrhagic septicemia infections of 2021,” said Pirkko Söderkultalahti, Senior Statistician at Luke.

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“In Mainland Finland, some six million kilos of food fish were produced in sea water and slightly more than three million kilos in fresh water. Production concentrated on the Archipelago Sea and the Satakunta region in coastal areas, and in Savonia, Kainuu and Lapland in Mainland Finland. Recirculating aquaculture systems produced 1.3 million kilos of food fish.”

Fewer Finnish fish farmers, and slump in fish fry production

According to the Luke survey, the number of fish farming operations has almost halved since 2006.

Last year, 219 fish farming enterprises were recorded, the majority of which (75%) operated in inland waters, with the reamining quarter operating in sea zones. The number of enterprises has decreased steadily since 2006 when the corresponding figure was almost 400.

And while food production has increased, fry produced to strengthen natural fish stocks has decreased in Finland compared to the levels recorded in the early 2000s.

Luke recorded Finland’s aquaculture industry had produced 18 million European whitefish fry, 5.3 million pikeperch fry, two million salmon fry, and almost two million trout fry in natural nutrition ponds and other fry production systems during 2022.

According to Luke, the production volume has been affected by a decrease in fish stocking and changes in stocking policies, a decrease in the number of fry producers, and the strengthening of natural fish populations of certain species, including pikeperch.

Supporting aquaculture for food fish, 18 million rainbow trout fry and 2.3 million European whitefish fry were farmed. The number of rainbow trout fry decreased by two million from the previous year, while the number of European whitefish fry delivered for further farming increased.

In its report, Luke notes that the decrease in rainbow trout fry can be explained by the moratorium on fry exports to Russia following the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the beginning of 2022.

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