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Landlocked salmon requires protection

The North Karelia main grid is located near Lake Pielinen. The Lieksanjoki River that flows into it and the Ala-Koitajoki River flowing into Pielisjoki River provide sites for landlocked salmon to reproduce naturally in Finland. Fingrid is one of the funders in the Saimaa landlocked salmon restoration project launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Although Fingrid’s Eastern Finland transmission line project itself has no impact on the habitat of freshwater trout, a connection is formed via local landowners in the area and the energy company, which produces hydropower.

“We wanted to do this to support landowners, who are an important interest group for us, and to enable the coordination of migratory fish and hydropower,” says Fingrid’s Communications Manager Marjaana Kivioja.

The aim of the project is to build expansive spawning grounds for freshwater trout and landlocked salmon in the Pielisjoki river channel. The total costs of the project to renovate the river channel are approximately 2.4 million euros. The state will fund half of this amount. The rest of the funding will come from a wide group of companies and municipalities in the region.

“This also acts as a research project to study the function of a new, environmentally friendly, small-scale hydropower plant. Fingrid’s contribution to the project is rather nominal, but we wanted to be involved in such an important project to support natural diversity,” says Kivioja.

Niilo Valkonen, project manager for the Pielisjoki river landlocked salmon project at the North Karelian Regional Council, is satisfied with support for the project.

“Without outside funding from partners, it would not have been possible to implement this project. It is great that several socially responsible companies have got involved,” says Valkonen.

The key project related to landlocked salmon has been in preparation since the beginning of 2017 with various studies and funding negotiations. Now Kuurnan Voima Oy and Laurinvirta Oy have obtained all the necessary building permits, and construction work for the Laurinvirta project began in August 2018. According to plans, implementation should take place by the end of 2019.

Kuurnan Voima will build a reproduction and fingerling production area for migratory fish in the floodway of Kuurna power plant. This is intended to restore the endangered landlocked salmon and trout in Lake Saimaa. A small hydropower plant will be built in the floodway at the same time to ensure the water supply needed for the fingerling production area.

The Kuurna floodway is about 1 kilometre long and 100–300 meters wide, and it is the original reproduction area of landlocked salmon. This voluntary project launched by Kuurnan Voima Oy proves that the goals of the fishing industry, environmental protection and the energy industry can be successfully integrated.