Seppo Keränen
Seppo Keränen


In 2019, fishing vessels registered in Finland caught a total of 135 million kilos of fish, with a total value of around EUR 37 million. This included 113 million kilos of Baltic herring and 16 million kilos of European sprat, most of which were caught using trawling vessels in the open sea. The majority of the fishers in coastal areas fished for common whitefish, perch, vendace, salmon and pikeperch, among other species, using fyke nets and nets.

International framework

The FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1995, sets out the principles and standards for the protection and management of fish stocks. The Code of Conduct also covers fishing, the handling and sale of catches, the fishing industry, aquaculture, research related to fish industries and the integration of fishing into coastal spatial planning. The Code of Conduct is supplemented by the FAO Guidelines on the Precautionary Approach to Fisheries.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the EU refers to the rules regulating the fishing fleets of the EU Member States and protecting European fish stocks. The purpose of the CFP is to ensure that the methods used in fishing and aquaculture in the EU are sustainable in terms of the environment, the economy and society. The policy also ensures that the sector produces healthy food for EU citizens. As an EU Member State, Finland has enacted an Act on the National Implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy of the European Union.

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) aims for a successful and sustainable bioeconomy. The goals promoted through the EMFF include sustainable fishing and aquaculture, the Common Fisheries Policy of the European Union and increased regional employment and cohesion. The market introduction and further processing of fish products and implementation of an integrated maritime policy are also promoted through the fund. The preparation of the 2021–2027 programme period of the EMFF is currently in progress.

National framework

As a sector, fishing is divided into commercial and recreational fishing. In Finland, both sub-sectors are regulated by the Fishing Act, which sets out the framework for the organisation of sustainable fishing and the protection of weakened and endangered fish stocks. The Act aims for the ecological, economically and socially sustainable use of viable fish stocks. It supports the natural reproduction of fish, as well as ensuring favourable conditions for recreational and commercial fishing and their development. The Fishing Decree lays down provisions concerning protected fish species and stocks, migratory fish and minimum sizes for caught fish.

In Finland, all water areas are divided into fishery regions in accordance with the Fishing Act. The fishery regions consist of continuous areas that are sufficiently large in terms of fishery economics.  The fishery regions started operations in 2019. They are responsible for the planning of the sustainable use and management of fish resources, and each fishery region is required to prepare a use and management plan by the end of 2021. Each fishery region is responsible for implementing the plan and monitoring its impact in its area. The authorities must take into account the general guidelines of the use and management plans in their operations.

The fishery regions are supervised by the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres) for Lapland, Southwest Finland and North Savo. Finland has 118 fishery regions, of which 33 are located in coastal and maritime areas. Of these 33 regions, 9 are located in the administrative area of the ELY Centre for Lapland and 24 in that of the ELY Centre for Southwest Finland.

Key national strategies:

The fishery administration strategy guides the operations of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, regional fishery administration and the wilderness process of Metsähallitus, as well as research related to the sector. The goal is to ensure vibrant, productive and diverse fish reserves, in addition to ensuring that the fishery sector continues to create well-being through experiences, hobbies, jobs and food products.

The goal of the recreational fishery development strategy is to make recreational fishing a popular and socially respected nature activity that makes sustainable use of diverse fishing waters and opportunities.  The purpose of the strategy is to guide the development of favourable conditions for recreational fishing in fishery administration (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, ELY Centres and Metsähallitus), research (Natural Resources Institute Finland), fishery regions and advisory organisations. The strategy also discusses major development trends in recreational fishing. 

The National Fish Pass Strategy aims to reinforce the vitality of endangered and threatened migratory fish stocks by shifting the focus from fish planting towards the maintenance and restoration of the natural reproduction cycle. 

The national salmon and sea trout strategy aims to increase salmon and sea trout stocks in Finnish rivers and restore stocks in potential and created rivers and streams. In addition, the strategy aims for the sustainable use of salmon and sea trout stocks in the Baltic Sea in an effort to increase the number of salmon and sea trout entering Finland’s marine areas.  The goal is also to improve the conditions in Finland’s marine and river areas for professional salmon fishing, recreational fishing and fishing tourism.


European Commission: Common Fisheries Policy. (23 September 2020)

European Commission: European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. (23 September 2020)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries: (23 September 2020)

Natural Resources Institute Finland: Commercial marine fishery. (25 September 2020)

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2019) Recreational fishery development strategy

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2015) National salmon and sea trout strategy

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2014) Fishery administration strategy

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2012) National fish pass strategy

Aquaculture and fishing 2020: European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. (23 September 2020)

FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, 1995