Voluntary work to help endangered migratory fish in Inkoo and Suomusjärvi

Shovels swung and smiles were warm in North Inkoo and Suomusjärvi as voluntary workgroups gathered to help extinction threatened fish. The workgroups were the first part of the multi-year cooperation between K Group and WWF to revitalise Finland’s migratory fish populations. Obstacles to sea trout swimming upstream were removed from a river in Inkoo and spawning grounds were restored in Suomusjärvi.

4-5 September 2017 Ingarskila River, Inkoo “Great breeding areas await the sea trout upstream.”

As a fresh, early autumn morning dawned in North Inkoo in Krämars on Monday 4 September, a group of workmates dressed in rubber boots and waders arrived at Ingarskila River.

The workmates examined two culverts where a small gravel road crosses Ingarskila River. The culverts help vehicles pass over the river but unintentionally act as barriers to the fish swimming upstream. In brief, when the water is low, the sea trout cannot pass through the culverts and swim upstream to where our scaly friends could except to find a couple of kilometres of very favourable gravel bed spawning grounds.  

Photo: Elina Erkkilä, WWF Finland’s Conservation Officer, and Harri Aulaskari, Chief Environmental Specialist at Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment describing the undertaking at the start of the day. The culverts would be opened by building fish steps below their entrances, so that the trout could find passage through the culvert irrespective of the water level.

The work began quickly and the sun began to shine and the orange Kuteminen kuuluu kaikille (Mating Belongs to All) t-shirts flitted between the trees. For Monica Brunberg, retailer at Inkoo's Lantis K-Market, participation was taken as given. “I have always been involved in many types of voluntary work, so of course I happily joined in and volunteered on behalf of my own local environment,” said Monica while carrying two buckets filled with stones to the other side of the river.  

Photo: Ready for work: Liisa Rohweder, Secretary General, WWF Finland, and Matti Kalervo, Kesko Vice President, Corporate Responsibility.  

Teppo Ojala, retailer at Lohja's Lempola K-Market wasn’t showing any signs of fatigue, even though he had already wheeled 20 wheelbarrows full of stones. Teppo's work day started at five o'clock in the morning at the store and after the workgroup ended he planned to return to the store for the rest of the day. Fish is a subject close to his heart. “The importance of fish to our customers is huge and the popularity of fish is growing as Finnish taste buds become more adventurous,” he explained.

In addition to Teppo and Monica, other K-Market retailers, Mikael Pettersson (K-Supermarket Karis-Karjaa) and Kaj Björklöf (K-Rauta Karjaa), and employees from K-Market Mustio supported the event.

The volunteers worked briskly and by afternoon the the fish steps had been raised enough to allow the sea trout passage. The work would continue on Tuesday but the first workgroup was already a success.

“It’s great that we could do concrete actions on such a tight schedule,” said Matti Ovaska, WWF Conservation Officer, thanking K Group for their cooperation. "Upstream, great spawning grounds await the sea trout and at least they won’t get stuck here.”

14 September 2017 Syvänoja, Suomusjärvi “While driving home, I smiled the whole way”

Syvänoja, Suomusjärvi, which belongs to the watercourse of Kiskonjoki, is an excellent breeding area for sea trout, but the stream’s lower sections lacked the gravel beds which are so important for sea trout spawning. So, K Group, WWF and Valonia joined forces in Syvänoja on Thursday 14 September to make spawning grounds for the extremely extinction threatened sea trout by laying gravel on the stream bed’s potential spawning grounds – more than twenty volunteers came to help.    


One of the volunteers was Rauni Ohtomaa, for whom the experience of stream restoration is new.

“When driving home to Turku I smiled all the way and I laughed really joyously, thinking how wonderful it was, I thought it was great to do such tangible work for the good of the environment. Here, I saw the results of my own work immediately and I found it gratifying to know that the work really helps the endangered sea trout and other aquatic life, said Rauni.

“I’d definitely recommend participating in this to others who want to do something concrete to preserve the biodiversity of nature. It’s perfect for anyone who likes being outdoors and engaging in physical activities.”  

Even though threatening rain clouds were accumulating in the sky, the weather was perfect for outdoor work. In addition to K Group, WWF and Valonia, a dozen of volunteers participated in the work and constructed five new spawning beds in Syvänoja that day.

“Southwest Finland's migratory fish, such as sea trout, all urgently need as much help as they can get. In practice, they can be helped, for example, by restoring small streams such as Syvanoja. It is very pleasing that the message about the poor condition of watercourses and migratory fish has been made clear to the wider population,” says Janne Tolonen, Water Expert, a specialist in sustainable development and energy at Valonia.

The positive cooperation of the landowners made the workgroup at Suomusjärvi possible as did the support of the local K-retailers Terhi Wiren and Marko Kärkkäinen (K-Supermarket Paimio), Kalle and Elna Jokinen (K-Market Enola, Salo) and Pasi Kallio and Mervi Sinervo (K-Market Pirkkatori, Halikko).

> Volunteer to help create fish passages and spawning grounds at https://www.kesko.fi/kalapolut .

Landowners can use the link to propose the restoration of watercourses on their land.

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