Case Study

Saving our joint treasure: sustainable trout fisheries for the transborder Oulanka river system

Contact name

Matti Hovi

Institution name

Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland

Region & country

Oulanka - Paanajärvi Transboundary Park - Finland and Russia


A cross-border project that aimed at creating sustainable use and healthy status of the migratory brown trout populations in the Oulanka River system, safeguarding the natural reproduction and maintaining the unique genetic properties of the population.

Scientists checking the trap net in Paanajärvi National Park

Photo by: Markku Seppänen

Trout cabin built for ichtyologists to live in during the trout marking campaign

Photo by: Anssi Vainikka

Background of the project

Oulanka (FI) and Paanajärvi (RU) National Parks share one of the last native populations of ad fluvial brown trout in Fennoscandia. Scientists and fishermen from both sides realised a decline of brown trout numbers in the river system.

Robust scientific data was needed in order to learn more about the size, structure, and migration of brown trout across the border. It revealed that only a few trout from the Russian side reach Oulanka River to spawn. Licensed recreational fishing has been identified as one factor of decline. It seemed necessary to get a better understanding of fishermen, their motivation and what measures they could support to safeguard the brown trout population.

Solution and actions taken

Study the size, structure, and migrations of brown trout across the border with the help of carlin-tags and radio transmitters.
Study the intensity of trout fishing pressure and the economic value of fishing on both sides of the border.

Establish a Finnish-Russian co-operative group to monitor and control the fishing of trout on both sides of the border, on the basis of latest research results and recommendations.
Increase the general awareness of the values of riverine ecosystems and fish.

Other institutions or parties involved

Lead partner: Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland (managing authority of Oulanka National Park)
Partners: Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Russian Northern Fisheries Research Institute NFRI, University of Oulu/Finland
Associate partners: Paanajärvi National Park, Municipality of Kuusamo, Several collectives of private water area owners from the Finish side of the river system


The project’s main activities strengthened the scientific knowledge, stakeholder cooperation and public awareness regarding the Oulanka River trout, all of which are critical components of successful long-term fishery management and conservation. Through a collaboration of Finnish and Russian stakeholders, a model for the joint management of trout populations could be developed, which can be useful for other transboundary waters where sustainable management of shared natural resources is needed.


Plan and complete joint Finish-Russian activities in a time when high level political relationships between the EU (with Finland as a member) and the Russian Federation were quite challenging.

Lessons learned

Roughly every third brown trout gets caught before spawning.
The landscape of national parks more important for a satisfactory fishing experience than catching of brown trout.
Hatchery-reared brown trout seem not to survive or adopt the natural migratory life cycle. Therefore natural production of juveniles should be enhanced e.g. through decreasing river fishing pressure in late autumn on the fish that are about to spawn.

Contact name

Matti Hovi

Institution name

Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland


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