Fisheries Areas Network

Good Practice Project

Recruiting young people to train with experienced fishers

The Lapland FLAG has financed a fisheries recruitment and training project to rejuvenate the ageing fisheries sector in the area around the Lokka and Porttipahta reservoirs. As a result, 14 young fishers of both genders started to operate.


Like many other fishing communities across the globe, the Lokka-Porttipahta reservoir in northern Finland has been struggling with the progressive ageing of its population. To stem – and reverse – this trend, in 2016 the municipality of Sodankylä applied for a grant from the Lapland FLAG to analyse the potential to attract new fishers. The results clearly indicate that new fishers should be actively recruited in order for the fishing community to continue thriving. Recruiting young fishers is also necessary to maintain the supply of local fish for the municipality’s catering services and for the Southern Finland market, where most of the catch from the fishers of Lokka and Porttipahta is sold.

A year later, the municipality of Sodankylä and the Lokka Fishermen’s Cooperative started a new FLAG project to actually implement this recruitment. They launched a national communication and media campaign to promote the professional opportunities linked to fishing in Lokka-Porttipahta, as well as information sessions about the recruitment process at fisheries training centres.

The main objectives of the project were:

  • to ensure the continuity of the sector in the area

  • to improve the professional skills of both new and existing fishers

  • to develop an innovative fisheries recruitment model for the area

After the recruitment was done, the new fishers were trained by senior fishers for two and a half years, following a flexible system that took the apprentices’ work and study schedules into account. The training methodology differed from the traditional master-apprentice approach, as the senior fishers provided training based on their own specific skills: the fishers with most skills in catching fish and designing gear focused on the actual fishing activity while those who were most experienced in processing shared their knowledge of post-harvesting activities.


At the conclusion of the project, 14 young fishers started to work in the area, and these including two women, which contributes to gender equality. The total number of commercial fishers in the reserve has almost doubled.

Thanks to the project, new investment in the port and processing infrastructure (as well as other development funding) has taken place, with even more expected in the area. Also, the new fishers are expected to bring new ideas to develop the local fisheries sector.

Although the project has now finished, the Lokka Fishermen's Cooperative has decided to carry on under their own steam. Experienced fishers are committed to providing training for anyone who is genuinely interested in work as a fisher. This has increased the importance of the role that the fisheries sector has in developing local economy.


This project can be replicated in all the fisheries communities where local senior fishers are committed to generational renewal and the reception of newcomers. They are the most essential part of the project and must be willing to guide and train new fishers over the entire project cycle, which could last several years. In this case, the senior fishers have also been responsible for assessing the performance of apprentices and evaluating whether it has been satisfactory; if they do not show the commitment required, they could be expelled from the programme.

It is important to highlight that the project does not include any income guarantee: the trainees must be prepared to start their own businesses after the training.

Lessons & contribution to CLLD objectives: 

Lessons: The most important element of the project and the recruitment model was the cooperation between fishers, municipality, employment authorities and the FLAG. It is essential to use a holistic approach when planning a fisheries recruitment project. Besides attracting new fishers to the area, the project needs to consider the new fishers’ living needs: the community must be ready to help the newcomers to integrate into the community. Some other support should be provided, such as housing assessment, or start-up grants for fishing businesses. This was essential in Sodankylä, as some of the trainees arrived from other parts of the country, so they had to prepare their move to Sodankylä while their training was under way.

Contribution to CLLD objective: (a) adding value, creating jobs, attracting young people and promoting innovation at all stages of the supply chain of fishery and aquaculture products.


Total project cost €33 066
FLAG grant €33 066
  • EU contribution (EMFF): €17 268
  • Public contribution (national): €15 798
Beneficiary contribution €3 674

Project information

Timeframe of implementation From Jul 2017 to Dec 2020
Sea Basins
Type of area


Municipality of Sodankylä

Contact details

FLAG Contacts

Mr. Markku Ahonen
+358 40 7046094
Publication date: 
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