The minimum catch size is the shortest allowed length for a caught fish. The length of a fish is measured from the tip of the jaw (with the mouth closed) to the tip of the extended and squeezed-together tail fin. In Finland, minimum catch sizes are defined in the Fishing Decree. 

The minimum catch sizes for many fish species were increased on 1 January 2016 as the Fishing Decree was amended. The purpose of the Decree is to bolster the protection of such species as sea trout, freshwater trout, brown trout, grayling and Saimaa char, and to promote sustainable fishing and the revitalisation of these fish stocks. 

In addition to the catch sizes defined in the Fishing Decree, fishing rights holders and owners of water areas may impose higher minimum catch sizes to protect the fish stocks in their waters. Fishing waters controlled by Metsähallitus may also have minimum catch sizes that differ from those defined in the Decree. The best way to find these is to visit the description page of the permit area in question at Eräluvat.fi. 

Minimum catch sizes and protection periods

As per the amended Fishing Decree, as of 1 January 2016, all fish caught in natural waters must fulfil the following minimum catch sizes: 

Trout with adipose fine

  • 50 cm in waters north of the 67°00 N circle of latitude 
    60 cm in other waters where fishing is permitted
    At most 45 cm in streams or ponds with no migratory connection from the sea or a lake. 

  •  
  • Protection period: 
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  • Completely protected in the Gulf of Finland. Completely protected in all sea areas as of the beginning of 2019. 
    Completely protected in inland waters south of the 64º00 N circle of latitude. Does not apply to trout caught in a stream or pond with no migratory connection from the sea or a lake. 
    Protected between 1.9.–30.11. in rivers and streams. 


  • Trout without adipose fin

50 cm

Protection period: Protected between 1.9.–30.11. in rivers and streams.


Salmon

  • 60 cm. In recreational fishing anglers may catch 2 salmon/day/person. 
    50 cm in the Bay of Bothnia north of the 63º30 N circle of latitude.

Protection period: Protected between 1.9.–30.11. in rivers and streams.


Freshwater trout with adipose fin

60 cm

Protection period: Completely protected in the Rivers Vuoksi and Hiitolanjoki. Protected between 1.8.–30.11. in other rivers and streams.


Freshwater trout without adipose fin

  • 60 cm
  • In recreational fishing anglers may catch 1 salmon/day/person in the Vuoksi waterway. 

Protection period: 1.6–31.8. in the waters of the Vuoksi and Hiitolanjoki Rivers defined in the map appendix of the Fishing Decree. Protected between 1.8.–30.11. in other rivers and streams.


Char

  • 60 cm in the Vuoksi water system
  • 45 cm in Lake Inarinjärvi

Protection period: Completely protected in Lake Kuolimo and in Lake Saimaa in the area between Puumalansalmi and Vuoksenniska. 1.9.–30.11. elsewhere in the Vuoksi water way. 


Grayling

30 cm on the north side and 35 cm on the south side of the 67°00 N circle of latitude

Protection period: Completely protected in the Baltic Sea. 1.4.–31.5. in inland waters south of the 67º00 N circle of latitude.


Whitefish 

No minimum catch size.

Protection period: Protected between 1.9.–30.11. in rivers and streams that run into sea.


River lamprey

No minimum catch size.

Protection period: 1.4.–15.8.


Pike-perch

42 cm

The minimum catch sizes for pike-perch caught in natural waters by commercial fishers belonging to Group I (as defined in Section 88 of the Fishing Act, 379/2015) are: 

1) 40 cm in inland waters and the Gulf of Finland until the end of 2018. 

2) 37 cm in sea areas other than the Gulf of Finland until the end of 2018, when the minimum catch size in these waters increases to 40 cm. 

Protection period: No protection period.


European crayfish 

Signal crayfish 

Narrow-clawed crayfish

Protection period (all crayfish): 1.11.–21.7., until noon.

Exceptions to minimum catch sizes

Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres) have the right to allow exceptions to minimum catch sizes defined in the Fishing Decree in certain water areas. These exception permits may be applied for by fishing rights holders and owners of water areas. In all likelihood, these exception permits will only be granted in very rare cases. 

The new changes to minimum catch sizes and the possible exception permits granted by ELY Centres have stirred up opinions both for and against.

Metsähallitus' conditions for exceptions

Metsähallitus strongly supports compliance with the new minimum catch sizes. The new catch sizes are followed in all water areas controlled Metsähallitus and exception permits are sought only in well-justified cases. 


Example case 1: 
An exception permit may be applied for when the fishing area in question is a closed-off water area (pond or lake) that is already being maintained with stockings of fry or catch-sized fish and where the conditions for the natural life cycle of the fish do not exist (e.g., no spawning grounds). 

Example case 2: 
An exception permit may be applied for when current conditions in the water area hinder or completely disrupt the natural life cycle of the fish living in it (e.g., as a result of a blockage to fish migration) and the fishing pressure (fish taken out of the water) is directed only at planted fish. The water area in question must also be of significant importance to the local economy and local businesses (lodging, fishing tours, etc.). 

Other conditions: 

The exception must be based on the commercial purpose of fish plantings and permit sales. 
The exceptional fishing must not endanger natural fish stocks.