Sustainability as a link between industries

Finland is one of the most important fishing nations by the Baltic Sea. The majority of Finland’s commercial fishing catch is herring and sprat. They are caught by trawlers on the open sea and in the archipelago and with traps and nets along the coastal area.

Commercial fishing plays an essential part in the fur industry’s circular economy chain as fish is used to produce feed for fur animals. The feed is derived from the by-products of slaughter unfit for human consumption. About 40% of the feed is made of by-products of meat processing and well over 20% of fish processing.

A positive impact on the Baltic Sea

Herring is the most important fish in commercial fisheries regarding quantity and value. Professional trawling and trapping of herring were MSC certified in 2018, ensuring sustainable and environmentally friendly fishing. Furthermore, as fish absorb nutrients, fishing can remove unwanted nutrients from the sea that have unfortunately already ended up in the water. Using fish for feeding fur animals removes phosphorus and nitrogen from the Baltic Sea with an annual reduction of 3.6% of the total phosphorus load in Finland and 1.4% of the total nitrogen load.

Fishing, as well as fur farming, are both of great importance for the economy and employment. Small family businesses often uphold both industries, and both sectors create jobs throughout the production chain. In both areas, ecological practices and sustainable development are self-evident and prerequisites for practicing the profession.

Eating fish also contributes to the well-being of the Baltic Sea

Consumers have a great way to influence the state of the Baltic Sea by eating herring. Currently, only about 4% of the herring catch ends up for human consumption.

This figure comes from fisherman and entrepreneur Risto Vehkaperä, who you can read more about in the article From fish to fur. Vehkaperä is of the opinion that the consumption of herring should definitely be increased, and he is calling for herring to be added to the preschool menu.

– In the past, fish were fried in butter at school. Nowadays, the fish comes to the schools ready-cooked and is reheated. No wonder people don’t like fish! Vehkaperä says.

This lack of interest is undoubtedly a problem, but fortunately, the fur industry provides a sustainable solution by using unwanted fish in feed production. What otherwise would be wasted is turned into a valuable and climate-smart commodity.


Saving the sea

Fish caught for the purpose of fur industry feed eliminate significant quantities of phosphorus and nitrogen from the Baltic Sea. The amount of nutrients extracted is 155 tonnes of phosphorus and 1 080 tonnes of nitrogen per year.