Fish and aquatic environment

Hydropower production alters the aquatic environment. We therefore work persistently in co-operation projects to develop aquatic environment. We are committed to furthering the restoration of the natural migration patterns of migratory fish with extensive co-operation, step by step. We believe that restoring the migratory fish and hydropower production can co-exist.

We are committed to restoring natural migration patterns in cooperation with other operators. The task is enormous, and requires extensive expertise and commitment from the parties involved, as well as versatile methods. Channels for upstream and downstream fish migration are important, but it is just as important to plant fish and spawn, transfer fish, and restrict and ban fishing.

We strongly believe that the best outcome will be achieved step by step with extensive cooperation.

Years of good cooperation in the Iijoki river has a clear aim: to build fishways at each of the power plants. In the first phase, the aim is to build a fishway and equipment for catching the fish for research and transfer at the Raasakka power plant. Additionally, a downstream migration solution with catching equipment will be built at the upstream power plant in Haapakoski. These solutions provide a valuable insight, based on which we can then plan for the future.

We are active in the extensive  Iijoki rive migratory fish project in 2020–2022. The project includes e.g. building a downstream migration fishway for smolt, as well as catching equipment, in Haapakoski. The project also promotes the launch of fishway constructions at Raasakka.  

We take part in the Iijoki Agreement for the years 2019–2023 which implements the Iijoki waterway vision and action plan. The joint project includes e.g. restoring drained swamps and undertaking other water management tasks in drainage basins.

We are also participating in joint projects in the Kemi-Ounasjoki river basin to restore migratory fish.

We have been actively involved in and have provided co-financing for studies and joint projects that have examined the prerequisites of the natural migration patterns of migratory fish since 2008.

Fishways

With Metsähallitus, we applied for a permit in 2017 to build a fishway in Raasakka in the Iijoki river. The authority has not yet given its decision on the construction permit.

Finland’s best experts have been planning the Raasakka fishway. The fishway utilises smart solutions. It is extremely advanced in its monitoring equipment, structure and dimensions. The results from the fishway can later be used as a basis for other fishways constructed in Finland. According to experts, a technical fishway will function better at Raasakka than a natural one.

There has been one fishway at Pohjolan Voima’s power plant Isohaara in the Kemijoki river since 1993. Isohaara is the lowermost power plant along the Kemijoki. There is also another fishway in Isohaara, the Vallitunsaari fishway, which was completed in 2012. Another fishway is located in the Iijoki headwaters, at the dam of the Kostonjärvi regulation lake.

The planned fishway at the Raasakka power plant.

Downstream migration

At the Haapakoski power plant in the Iijoki river, the downstream migration of smolt, migratory salmon fry, is being studied. In the summer of 2019, Finland’s first guide fence for smolt was installed at Haapakoski. It helps to guide young fish migrating to the sea to the previous drift wood hatch. The downstream migration fishway is designed to start from the same spot.

The Natural Resources Institute Finland is studying the functionality of the guide fence in 2020 and 2021.

The guide fence and the downstream migration fishway that will be built at Haapakoski form Finland’s first downstream migration route. The construction for the downward migration fishway will start in the autumn of 2020.

The guide fence that guides the smolt downstream at the Haapakoski power plant.

The old Iijoki riverbed in Raasakka

The joint development project for the old Iijoki riverbed in Raasakka is underway from 2017 to 2021. It aims to facilitate the upstream migration of fish and their reproduction, as well as to improve the area’s recreational use. The project includes studies of water quality, the construction of swimming places and other recreational areas, the cutting of horsetail, and the improvement of boating routes.

The project has generated promising results on the natural reproduction of migratory fish in the old Iijoki riverbed in Raasakka.

Fish stock management and transferring fish

Annually, we stock more than three million young fish, transfer breeding fish and river lampreys, and support fishing associations in fish stock management.

In the Iijoki and Kemijoki rivers, our obligations for fish stock management are the most extensive in Finland. In the Iijoki river, we are responsible for stocking fish in the river and ocean areas, as well as in two lake regions. In addition, we handle 17 % of the fish stock management in the main channel of the Kemijoki river and the ocean area, as well as in one lake region. Annual fishery fees are also paid in the Iijoki headwaters and in the areas of Irnijärvi and Kostonjärvi regulation lakes. 

Voimalohi Oy, which we own with Kemijoki Oy, grows the fish we need for our statutory stocking and takes care of the stock management with local operators across our operating area. Monitoring provides information about the effects of fish stock management efforts.

Stocking young fish to the Irni waterway. Mika Pylväs of Voimalohi Oy at Polojärvi lake.

Ecological flow

Annual ecological flows to the Kostonjoki and Irninjoki rivers have been agreed with the municipality of Taivalkoski and the authorities. In the Irninjoki river, we have restored appropriate spawning beds for trout and grayling. The functionality of the ecological flow and the gravel spawning beds in the Irninjoki river will be monitored until the end of 2022.

Spawning bed for trout and grayling at he Irninjoki river.

Regulation of waterways

In regulating waterways, the aim is to generate hydropower, prevent flooding and promote waterway traffic, the recreational use of the waterways and water supply. The regulation of waterways always requires a permit in compliance with the Water Act. The permit is granted by the Regional State Administrative Agency. Various Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment monitor compliance with the permit conditions.

Regulation is constantly being developed with the authorities and local residents to mitigate environmental impacts.

Environmental management and protection of shorelines

Flooding and regulation cause erosion of shorelines. The shorelines of regulated lakes and rivers are protected against erosion with supportive structures. Environmental management also includes the clearing of shorelines, as well as earth dams and submerged dams.

By the end of 2019, more than 360 kilometres of shoreline had been protected against erosion, while almost 1,000 kilometres of shoreline had been cleared for landscaping purposes.

Clearing earth dams at the Isohaara power plant area in Kemijoki river.