The municipality of Posio and local fishers have developed the Mourusalmi fishing port in Eastern Lapland.
Photo by: The Municipality of Posio

Posio transforms its fishing port and promotes local fish

Fishing and fish processing is one of the important sectors in Posio, Eastern Lapland. Underutilized fish species have great potential that is ready to be realised. The Municipality of Posio is developing the Mourusalmi fishing port in close cooperation with local fishers.

The Mourusalmi fishing port in Posio has received a good boost: the municipality develops the fishing port together with local fishermen to better meet their needs. The fishing port serves professional fishers and buyers. The aim of the development projects is to attract new young people to the sector, to increase the handling and processing of fish and to better utilize local fish.

In Mourusalmi’s development projects, the fishing port has gotten its absorption field renewed, improved wastewater treatment, and increased lighting in the area. Also, the port has now new equipment, such as freezer containers for cold storage, fillet tables and a fish scaling machine.

Posio is in Eastern Lapland, close to Kuusamo, Kemijärvi and Rovaniemi. The Mourusalmi port is about 13 kilometers from the center of the municipality and 35 kilometers from Kuusamo.

Primary production is one of Posio’s strong sectors, and the further processing of food and natural products offers interesting business opportunities. The sustainable nature tourism in the area supports fishing, and there’s a demand for local food with a low carbon footprint from the travel sector.

Port thrives from cooperation

The Municipality of Posio has developed the fishing port with projects from 2020, and the work is meant to continue with a new project. The municipality has aimed to develop the port together with professional fishermen. Cooperation between the municipality and fishers has gone well and been productive, and the cooperation is being further developed.

For example, at the beginning of 2022, the fishers took part in an event organized by the municipality to discuss next steps for the port. One part of the discussion was to come up with a marketing plan to raise the interest of young fishers and bring new people of the trade to Posio’s fishing grounds. The municipal representatives and local fishers plan to have discussions on a regular basis.

– The municipality has been investing in the development of the fishing port for several years. The best ideas have come from fishers who have worked together to plan how the port can be developed. The common goal of the municipality and the fishers is that the fish can be handled and processed in Posio as far as possible, says the municipality’s construction foreman Taneli Mertaniemi in a press release.

With the new equipment purchases, the handling and freezing of fish can be done in Mourusalmi, and there isn’t need to spend time on additional transport, which saves fishers’ working hours. There’s a goal to increase the level of processing from its current state.

– The new fishing port development project, that we’ll be applying for in the spring, aims to purchase a fish processing machine and explore other fish processing opportunities. The goal of the follow-up project is to assist the fish processing and sales, says Niina Heino, Head of Business Development of Posio municipality.

The fish processing machine can be used to make fish patties and balls, for example. In addition to the machine, the control system for freezer containers will be expanded.

– In some fishing ports, fishers have set up a cooperative, which allows them to coordinate common operations and apply for funds for the development of the port themselves. This model could work in Posio as well, Heino says.

Sustainable local fish has big potential

There’s a desire to promote the use of domestic and locally caught fish as a part of the development efforts of the Mourusalmi fishing port. Increasing demand for domestic fish will have positive economic effects, such as increased employment, the value of production and exports. Additionally, domestic local fish consumption reduces the carbon footprint and benefits health. Finland is committed to a domestic fish promotion program, in which the domestic fish consumption will be doubled and the value of exports of fish products will be multiplied by 2035.

Local fish, such as vendace, common roach and pike, are underused. Underfished fish species have great potential in Lapland. Cooperation between operators can lead to the development of new innovative processing methods to increase the degree of processing, and the existing potential can be effectively realised.

Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) researched the carbon footprint of Finnish fish products in 2021. The study also involved fishers from Posio. According to Luke’s research, farmed fish have the biggest climate impact, followed by perch and pike caught with a net, and vendace caught by trawl. The smallest impact is with herring and seine-caught vendace.