Did you know that eating fish that is fished sustainably from the Baltic Sea is a smart and tasty way to protect the sea we love? Domestic cyprinid fish is delicious and good for you, and there is plenty of it in the sea. The appreciation of cyprinid fish is growing fast, and we already know how to prepare many kinds of delicious dishes from roach. Could the Finns rediscover eating domestic bream, which in the olden days was a very highly valued delicacy? Demand and supply go hand in hand, and the power of the consumer is great. This is why everyone’s choices count.
The objective of the John Nurminen Foundation Local Fishing Project is to recycle a significant amount of nutrients from sea to land by fishing that targets cyprinid fish and, at the same time, helps underused domestic fish find their way to the plates of the Finns. The first locally fished product is already available in shops! With the launch of Saaristolaiskalapihvit, the Foundation and Kesko introduce to K-kauppa grocery stores bream fish patties made from fish that has been fished by the Local Fishing Project.
Recycle nutrients and bring cyprinid fish to the dinner table
Questions and answers on the Local Fishing Project and the Pirkka archipelago fish patties are available at (in Finnish).
The project seeks to create a permanent foodstuff chain as well as demand for cyprinid fish products from both institutional kitchens and consumers. The project is estimated to last 3-5 years, and it will be implemented in two phases. In 2015–2016, during the pilot phase, a functioning production chain was built in cooperation with stakeholders from the Turku region.
In the second phase of the project, more municipalities of the coastal region are invited to join the project so that a steady demand for the fish products could be ensured from the outset, responding to the needs of, for example, institutional kitchens providing daily food services. Moreover, local fish product production and marketing are expanded, products are offered also for the consumer market, and companies from the grocery and retail fields who are prepared to commit to the productisation and marketing of the products are brought in. Created raw material side streams, such as fish trimmings, are to be utilised in the foodstuff chain (for example as fish feed, so-called Baltic Sea feed) or, alternatively, in energy production.
The John Nurminen Foundation and Kesko will introduce bream fish patties, made from fish that has been fished by the Local Fishing Project, with the launch of the new Archipelago Fish Patties (in Finnish Pirkka saaristolaiskalapihvit).
The Pirkka Archipelago Fish Patties are an ethical locally fished product. The high quality of the fish patties is ensured with the grocery chain’s in-house controls and an uninterrupted cold chain. Fish are sorted and put to ice, and then taken directly to mincing. With mincing, bones and fish materials are separated from the fresh, gutted fish, and the prepared pulp is frozen for further processing.
The patties are prepared at the Apetit Ruoka Oy factories in Säkylä: the bream pulp is seasoned, fried, and frozen, and then delivered as a ready frozen product to the K-kauppa grocery stores. Each package contains two breaded bream patties that you can heat up on a frying pan, in the oven, or in a microwave.
Cyprinid fish are excellent food in terms of both your health and the environment. Eating fish fished that is fished sustainably from the Baltic Sea is an act that benefits the environment: it reduces the Baltic Sea footprint of the individual consumer. With the fish catch, harmful nutrients are removed from the waterways, which in turn helps reduce eutrophication in the coastal waters. With the annual cyprinid fish catch, it is possible to recycle, at best, approximately 8 tonnes of phosphorus from the Archipelago Sea area.
The positive health consequences of eating fish are significant, and new nutrition recommendations encourage Finns to continue increasing the share of fish in their diets (National Institute for Health and Welfare). There are no limits to eating cyprinid fish, since it is a low-fat fish with no known significant concentrations of harmful substances. The phosphorus that the fish carry with them is not harmful to humans. Phosphorus is a naturally occurring element that all living organisms need to grow – after calcium, phosphorus is the second most common mineral in the human body, and roughly 85% of it is found in bones in the form of calcium phosphate. Phosphorus can be found in most foodstuffs, and Finns mostly get it from milk and grain products.
When you eat an archipelago fish patty, you protect the Baltic Sea and support sustainable fishing!
All stakeholders who participate in the project commit to the principles of sustainable fish stock management. The fishing targets underused cyprinid fish, and endangered species and predatory fish must be freed from traps. Traps must also be placed so that the ascents of migratory fish are not endangered. Project operations are as transparent as possible: fish catches are monitored, and the progress of the project is communicated regularly.
The cyprinid fish stocks of the Finnish coastline have grown, most likely partly due to the eutrophication of the waterways. Cyprinid fish compete for nutrition and living space with other, more financially important fish species. The efficient fishing of cyprinid fish can improve fish growth, and also give more room for predatory fish, thus balancing out the structure of the fish stock. It has also been estimated that in total, approximately 600 tonnes of eutrophicating phosphorus is annually recycled from the Finnish waterways to land by fishing.
Food production is one of the major sources of the nutrient load in the Baltic Sea and the Archipelago Sea. The project will increase the consumers’ awareness of the connection between food production and waterway protection, and improve the image of domestic fish as a food product. Introducing locally produced fish to the offerings of industrial kitchens, such as school canteens, is also an ethical and ecological alternative to factory-farmed meat or imported fish.
Coastal fishing is a traditional livelihood and, as such, an important part of the vibrant culture of the Archipelago Sea. With the rising appreciation for cyprinid fish, the profitability of professional fishing can also increase. Without fishermen, the supply of domestic fish to consumers will not grow! Moreover, the project will support local primary production of foodstuffs through employment, income and increased investment.
Sitra’s publication ‘Finnish road map to a circular economy’ (in Finnish) highlights best practices and pilots that are easy to duplicate and provide added value on a national level. The Foundation’s Local Fishing Project has been selected as one of the pilot projects of the sustainable food systems focus area.
The Local Fishing Project is also one of the pilots of the NutriTrade project (NutriTrade – Piloting a Nutrient Trading Scheme in the Central Baltic), which is partly funded by the EU Interreg Central Baltic programme (2015 – 2018). The NutriTrade project creates a system for providing and financing voluntary nutrient reduction measures in the Baltic Sea area. NutriTrade is a flagship project of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, and it is led by the John Nurminen Foundation.
Miina Mäki, Project Manager
Clean Baltic Sea projects
John Nurminen Foundation
Tel. +358 50-576 3298