The Fishing notation indicates key areas for gillnetting and trawling. Among other things, data sets on gillnetting and trawling were used to underpin their identification[1].

When developing the sector, it is vital to address annual and seasonal variations in areas used for fishing, the impacts of climate change, ports important for fishing and possibilities for recreational use. Taking plans for the use and management of fisheries into consideration is also important. 

Vision developed for fishing: 

Sustainable commercial fishing will support self-sufficiency, produce climate-friendly food, and strengthen the vitality of the coast and archipelago relying on collaborative local decision-making.

Rather than attempting to identify potential new areas for professional fishing in the marine areas, the aim of maritime spatial planning was to make visible the areas where large-scale commercial fishing is currently taking place. As planning documents were used the Natural Resources Institute Finland’s data on key commercial gillnetting areas, AIS material on fishing vessel movements, and ICES statistical rectangles on fish catches. Neither does the plan exclude fishing in other areas. The Maritime Spatial Plan recognises the fact that fishing takes places wherever fish can be found, and consequently the most important future fishing areas are difficult to foresee. As a result, the plan largely describes the current state of professional fishing, and the plan’s impacts would also be similar to the current situation. Maritime spatial planning notwithstanding, significant areas for fishing may change in the future.


While the plan has no impact on existing fisheries, the identification of spawning grounds and nurseries as well as fish migration routes may have a positive impact on fish stocks and fishing opportunities. 

In commercial fishing, the catch is limited by fishing quotas. Fishermen usually strive to catch the full quota, and maritime spatial planning has no impact on this. An effort will be made to ensure the sustainable use and yield of the fish resources and biodiversity by means of separate plans and strategies, including the management and use plans prepared by the fishery associations. Fishing supports low-carbon food production and removal of nutrients from the Baltic Sea. The sustainability of fish stocks and the ecological, social and economic sustainability of fishing methods will therefore continue to be based on fishing quotas and regulation of fishing techniques. 

In addition to nutrient emissions, fishing may also have an impact on biodiversity in other ways. Some protected wild species, including the seal and the cormorant, feed in important fishing areas and thus damage the fishing industry. To prevent such damage, derogations are sometimes granted, giving permission to cull or disturb cormorants. 

These derogations are subject to rigorous consideration of needs, and the threshold for granting permits is significantly high; for this reason, their impacts can be regarded as minor. An effort is made to limit the damage caused by seals through hunting quotas for the grey seal and population management of the ringed seal based on hunting permits. This type of hunting aimed at limiting the damage has no impact on biodiversity, however, as only individuals in viable populations are culled.

Fishing is one of the traditional means of livelihood in the archipelago and coastal areas. The plan supports the continuity of this industry and makes it visible. In 2017, the value of the fish caught in Finnish marine areas was approximately EUR 36 million.[2] The main species caught are the Baltic herring and the European sprat, which are largely used as feed for fur animals and salmonids. The main method for catching Baltic herring and European sprat is offshore trawling. Coastal fishing involves gillnet and trap fishing, with whitefish, perch, pike-perch and salmon as the most important species caught. The catches in coastal fishing are extremely small compared to offshore fishing, and coastal fishing has been declining for several years. In 2018, there were 2,499 commercial fishermen operating in the marine area with 3,233 fishing vessels in the national register of commercial fishermen. The average turnover of a coastal fishing company was EUR 6,900 in 2017.[3]

The demand for wild fish exceeds the availability of Finnish fish. While there were 2,231 registered commercial fishermen in the marine areas in 2019, the number of active fishermen is estimated to be less than half of this figure.[4]  The operations of most professional fishermen are small in scale, and their livelihoods are composed of several sources of income. Fish caught in Finland also provides employment and creates economic value throughout the processing chain, creating jobs for service providers in remote coastal areas.

The physical structures and areas associated with fishing, such as fishing villages and harbours, are part of maritime cultural heritage. A viable and sustainable fishing industry maintains not only local cultural heritage but also the vitality of island and coastal settlements. On the other hand, economically viable fish processing plants are industrial facilities and trawling, which is the most economically significant sector of fishing, is operated on an industrial scale, and consequently these activities may no longer have links to the old cultural heritage.

Trawling may pose a risk to underwater cultural heritage if the trawl happens to snag on an underwater archaeological site, such as a shipwreck. The Maritime Spatial Plan has no impact on the location of fishing areas, and any negative impacts of trawling on underwater cultural heritage are not associated with the plan.


[1] Natural Resources Institute Finland’s open data on key areas for professional gillnetting (https://opendata.luke.fi/dataset/pyydyspaikat-rysapisteet-ja-verkkoalueet); Data collected by HELCOM on the movements of fishing vessels (AIS) from 2016. HELCOM geographical information interface: 2016

[2] Statistics on the catches of the commercial fishing fleet in the marine area 2017. Natural Resources Institute Finland.

[3] https://www.luke.fi/uutinen/rannikkokalastuksen-kannattavuus-heikkeni/

[4] https://www.luke.fi/uutinen/merialueen-kaupallisten-kalastajien-maara-vaheni-edelleen-vuonna-2019/

Fishing AIS Shipping Density (http://maps.helcom.fi/website/mapservice/); ICES statistical rectangles indicating catches (Natural Resources Institute Finland, statistical database, catches of commercial fishing fleet in the marine area).