Fortum and the municipalities of Muhos, Utajärvi and Vaala have agreed on the construction of Finland’s most modern trap and transport facilities for fish at the Montta hydropower plant.
The restoration of migrating fish has been designated as one of the Finnish Government’s spearhead project, and the construction of the trap and transport facilities at Montta is one of the pilot targets of the project.
A building permit has been issued for the construction of the trap and transport facilities and the work is scheduled to start in May.
According to the plan, the facilities will be operational in autumn 2016. Salmon traditionally start their migration up the River Oulujoki in August, so the use of the facilities will effectively begin next year. Fortum is responsible for the construction and will finance nearly 75 per cent of the project. The regional municipalities and the Finnish Government are responsible for the remaining share. The cost estimate of the facilities is some 2 million EUR.
The aim is to increase the small salmon population in the River Oulujoki by transporting fish across several dams to the breeding grounds upstream. Restoring the natural cycle of salmonids requires a diverse range of solutions and long-term collaboration between the different stakeholder along the river. The aim is to use trap and transport to get salmonids to their breeding grounds in a healthy, strong physical condition.
“We believe that systematic trap and transport is currently the most effective way to get migrating fish to their breeding grounds. We have been using trap and transport in Sweden for several decades. Experiences there demonstrate that it is an effective solution for maintaining the fish population when a river has multiple consecutive dams. With Fortum’s modernised fish farm facility and the upcoming trap and transport facilities, Montta is becoming a significant contributor to fish farming and fish habitat management,” says Fortum’s Marja Savolainen.
Construction of the Montta trap and transport facilities is a broad regional collaboration project that is also receiving spearhead project funding from the Finnish Government.
“The Government’s spearhead project funding aims to accelerate new and diverse solutions for restoring migrating fish populations. Trap and transport supports the restoration of the River Oulujoki’s value as a salmon river. The project is also likely to accelerate other support measures planned to revitalise migrating fish populations in the River Oulujoki,” notes Senior Officer Jouni Tammi from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The trap and transport facilities to be constructed at the Montta power plant cover the lower portion of the fishway. The facilities will be used to capture (human touch-free) the reproductive-sized salmon swimming into the facilities and then transport them in a fish transport tanker truck to the River Oulujoki tributaries. A joint project between the ELY Centres, Fortum and local municipalities restored suitable breeding grounds for salmon in the Utosjoki and Kutujoki tributaries. It will also be possible to collect roe from the salmonids swimming into the facilities for use in fish farming at the Montta fish farm. The facilities will also enable the studying of fish behaviour in a constructed river. The information will be used in planning measures to help migrating fish move upstream in other constructed rivers.
“Muhos municipality sees the construction of the Montta trap and transport facilities as a very significant addition to the River Oulujoki’s recreational opportunities,” says Muhos Municipality Manager Jukka Syvävirta.
“Utajärvi municipality will participate in the construction of the trap and transport facilities because it is a tangible, right direction action in the restoration of River Oulujoki as a salmon river,” notes Utajärvi Municipality Manager Kyösti Juujärvi.
“Vaala municipality believes that systematic trap and transport will promote recreational fishing and travel in the area. The goals of the trap and transport for salmon also align well with the Unesco’s Global Geopark image,” says Vaala Municipality Manager Tytti Määttä.