Helping Extinction Threatened Sea Trout Reach Spawning Grounds

K Group, local K-retailers and WWF organised a two day voluntary workgroup on river Ingarskila in Inkoo on 4 and 5 September, opening a route to the breeding grounds of the extremely endangered sea trout. The voluntary workgroups are part of recently initiated cooperation between K Group and the WWF, which is part of broad and multi-year co-operation to save Finland’s endangered migratory fish.

Many of the Finland’s migratory fish species are on the verge of extinction because they are prevented from swimming upstream to their spawning grounds; their journey upstream and the subsequent spawning is often blocked by innocuous looking, man-made structures. For example, on the upper part of river Ingarskila, the passage of the sea trout is restricted by two culverts.

“The Ingarskila’s situation is unfortunately typical. There are huge numbers of culverts and old mill ponds in Finland, blocking access to thousands of miles of potential living and reproductive habitats for our endangered migratory fish. By removing the obstacles, we help the species,” says Secretary General Liisa Rohweder of WWF Finland.

At present, the culverts on Ingarskila are partial obstacles, which means they prevent the fish from swimming upstream when the water is low. Hence, the aim of the voluntary workgroup is that the culverts will be opened by building thresholds below them so that the sea trout have a fish passage regardless of the height of the water. The procedure will reconnect almost two kilometres of natural stream channel, which is a precious reproduction habitat for the trout.

“The site is very important for sea trout, thus carrying out the task will allow them and also other aquatic life free passage regardless of the flow of the river,” says Harri Aulaskari, Chief Environmental Specialist at Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, who has long worked on safeguarding the river Ingarskila and its species.

Part of the multi-year cooperation between K Group and WWF

The voluntary workgroups are part of K Group and WWF’s co-operation, which will map and remove barriers to migratory fish passage across Finland while working with landowners, local K-retailers and volunteers. A further objective is to raise awareness and open up debate about endangered migratory fish. The cooperation goes under the slogan ‘Mating Belongs to all’.

Participating in the voluntary work taking place on the river Ingarskila are K-Market Lantis (Inkoo), K-Market Mustio, K-Supermarket Lempola (Lohja), K-Supermarket Karis-Karjaa and K-Rauta K-maatalous Karja.

“Retailers have an obligation and a right to be involved in matters affecting the whole community. Inkoo is a cooperative community and the volunteer spirit is strong here. I have always been involved in many kinds of volunteer work and I’ll go along with pleasure to volunteer to improve my local environment and improve the lot of endangered species,” says Monica Brunberg, K Market Lantis retailer.

“It is a joy to be involved in concrete responsibility work together with Inkoo, local K-retailers and WWF. As the world's most responsible trading sector company, we want to extend our reach far beyond our store walls and help others. The cooperation is a continuation of our long-term work on behalf of sustainable fish stocks,” says Matti Kalervo, Kesko Vice President, Corporate Responsibility.

Workgroups crown long-term protection work

Many different groups have already done valuable work on river Ingarskila to conserve the sea trout population. For instance, the rapids important for the trouts have been restored and the breeding of the fish has been facilitated by adding pebbles and rocks to the river bed. In addition, landowners have restricted the fishing of trout. The positive attitude of the landowner enabled the voluntary work done in Inkoo.

“As farmers, we live close to nature and from nature, which means it is great to see so many others caring about the same things. Such a project would not have been economically feasible without this cooperation,” says Nina Långstedt, landowner and organic farmer.

Follow the progress of K Group and WWF’s cooperation: http://kesko.fi/kalapolut (in Finnish).

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