Fishheart fishway has carried more than 12,500 fish over Fortum’s Leppikoski hydropower plant

30 August 2022, 9:00 EEST

Leppikoski fishheart in Oulujoki Finland

As of mid-August, the Fishheart fishway had carried more than 12,500 fish over the Leppikoski power plant located in Paltamo. The Fishheart was lowered into the water in June, and the plan is for it to be in use until mid-October.

“The result is excellent even though we are just half way through the operating period. It’s also fantastic to see how many different species have passed through the Fishheart. So far, about 15 of the fish have been endangered lake trout; that’s a promising number,” says Fortum’s Environmental Manager Katri Hämäläinen.

Along with lake trout, the Fishheart has also carried whitefish, perch, bream, vendace and pike perch, among others, this summer. In 2021, the Fishheart was in test use from early August to the end of October. Now, for the first time, the fishway will be in use throughout the entire upstream migration season.

“During the 2021 test use and the short operating period, we gained important information about where the Fishheart’s opening should be positioned for the next season. Based on the results, it seems that the positioning has been ideal for this summer. In fact, one of the advantages of the Fishheart is that it can be moved to a location based on what is best for the fish,” says Mika Sohlberg, Sales and Marketing Manager from Fishheart Ltd.

The hydraulic Fishheart fishway is a Finnish innovation enabling fish to migrate past obstacles. The fishway is installed in the power plant’s tailrace channel, where an attraction flow is created to guide fish into the opening of the device. Fishheart uses artificial intelligence to detect fish that swim in and then moves them via pipes over the dam.

Additional stocking of juvenile fish in rivers upstream from the Leppikoski power plant

The Fishheart commissioned at the Leppikoski power plant is part of a set of measures being implemented to strengthen the natural life cycle of endangered Oulujärvi lake trout on the Hyrynsalmi route. The top targets of the Oulujoki river system fish passage strategy are located on the route.

The project includes e.g. the restoration of potential habitats and breeding grounds essential for the life cycle of the lake trout population in the tributaries upstream from the Leppikoski power plant. Additionally, Fortum has increased the stocking of lake trout fry in the tributaries in an effort to strengthen the fish population that imprints to the river. Stocking and the use of the Fishheart fishway is planned and developed in cooperation with the local fishing right owners’ association and fishing authorities.

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