Fish farming decreasing in Finland but increasing in Norway

Production of fish for food in aquaculture in Finland 1978–2013

Production of fish for food
Sources: Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute. Aquaculture. 2013.

Environmental costs have reduced more than actual production

Farming of fish for food has decreased steadily in Finland since the early 1990s, and is now down by more than 40% from the record year 1991.

Domestic fish production has mainly been replaced by production in Norway, which has grown vigorously in recent years. In 2008, fish farming in Norway accounted for almost 40% of aquaculture production in Europe.

The environmental impact of fish farming in Finland has decreased in line with falling production figures. Moreover, improved feeding techniques and lower amounts of feed have markedly decreased pollution in relation to production. In the last 15 years, nutrient discharges from fish farms to the aquatic environment have been halved: in 2012, it was estimated that fish farming accounted for 2% of the total phosphorus load and 0.9% of the nitrogen load.


  • Aquaculture statistics.Official Statistics of Finland. Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute. 2014.
  • EEA Indicators: Aquaculture production (CSI 033). 2013.
  • The Compliance Monitoring Data system, VAHTI. 2013.

Fish catches by Finnish fishermen in 1980–2012

Fish catches
The volume of fish caught by professional fishermen at sea includes all of those landed within the entire Baltic Sea. Catches by professional fishermen in inland waters, and those of recreational fishermen in inland waters and sea areas are shown from 1998, since earlier data is not fully comparable.
Sources: Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute. Fish processing. 2013.

Larger catches for fewer fishermen

Finns now catch slightly larger hauls of fish in the Baltic Sea than 30 years ago. Catch volumes have not grown steadily because changes in fish stocks, and in fishing quotas in particular, have caused steep downturns every now and again.

Although catches have grown on the whole, the number of professional fishermen has declined steadily since the mid-1980s, with only 535 fishermen left in the sea area in 2012. Fishing accounted for at least 30% of their income. In 2000, the number of such fishermen was 1,004. Professional fishing in inland waters has not seen such dramatic change.

At sea, the most important species of fish caught is Baltic herring, while vendace is the primary catch in inland waters. In 2012, Finns’ total catch of Baltic herring was 117,000 tonnes. It has also increased in recent years despite the fact that, according to ICES standards, in many parts of the Baltic, herring stocks suffer from over-exploitation.

Finns caught some 330 tonnes of Baltic salmon, classified as threatened, in 2012. The share of naturally bred salmon has increased in the 2000s, totalling more than two thirds of the salmon catch at present.


  • Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute. 2013.
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. 2010.


Published 2015-04-15 at 14:21, updated 2016-07-20 at 12:55