Badly needed migration routes and spawning grounds created for endangered migratory fish

This year, K Group and WWF Finland will be arranging various volunteering events from June until autumn in an effort to restore and create new migration routes and spawning grounds in rivers and streams for the critically endangered trout and other migratory fish in Finland. The first event of the year was held at the Vihtijoki river in Southern Finland on 8 June. The events are part of the multi-year K Fishpaths collaboration between K Group and WWF Finland that aims to save Finnish migratory fish under the slogan “Mating Belongs to all”.

There were not enough spawning places for trout in the Vihtijoki river or areas for their fry to grow, and so WWF Finland, K Group employees, K-retailers and representatives from Virho, the Finnish Society for Stream Conservation, took to work in early June and restored some 100 metres of a rapid in the river, using their hands as well as machines. 

The restoration is expected to significantly increase the density of trout in the area. Other animal species and plants will also benefit from a more diverse habitat.

“The restoration at Vihtijoki is not only important for the fish, it also makes it possible for the freshwater pearl mussel, the critically endangered oldest animal in Finland, to return to the area. Freshwater pearl mussels can live up to 200 years, but during their larva stage they need a trout or a salmon for a host. This is an excellent example of delicate interactions in flowing watercourse ecosystems: low salmon and trout populations mean freshwater pearl mussels have no hosts,” explains Elina Erkkilä, senior freshwater officer at WWF Finland. “I want to express my warmest thanks to the landowner and ownership partners who enabled the restoration work.”

Timo Laukkanen, the retailer of the local K-Supermarket Vihti, also took part in the restoration: “We must ensure the survival of the local fish population. I want to take part in making the whole Vihti municipality more sustainable. Local food and care for the environment are important aspects of that.”

Volunteers needed late into autumn

K Group and WWF Finland began their collaboration to save endangered migratory fish last year, and they will continue to work together to remove unnecessary migration obstacles such as culverts and old damns across Finland until 2021. Spawning grounds will also be created for the fish with the help of volunteers.

This year, there are 10-15 restoration sites, bigger and more impressive than the sites restored last year.

“We will be needing lots of help from volunteers. There is a long tradition in voluntary work to restore flowing waterbodies in Finland, and we were thrilled to see last autumn just how eager people were to participate. As the most sustainable trading sector company in the world and a responsible seller of fish, we again invite all Finns to come and work together to save our endangered migratory fish,” says Matti Kalervo, Kesko’s Vice President of Corporate Responsibility.

The collaborators will also be visiting sites that were restored last year to see if migratory fish have found their way there.

“At previously restored locations, the density of migratory fish has tended to increase by 300-500%. Changes can be seen in just one year, says Markus Penttinen from Virho, which is working together with WWF Finland on many locations to restore flowing watercourses and create fish passage.

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