The minimum catch size is the shortest allowed length for a caught fish. Minimum catch sizes are set to ensure the sustainable use of fish stocks and promote the recovery of certain stocks.

In Finland, minimum catch sizes are defined in the Fishing Decree. 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.

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, landlocked salmon, brown trout, grayling and Saimaa char, and to promote sustainable fishing and the revitalisation of these fish stocks. 

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. 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.


Trout with adipose fine
  • At least 50 cm in waters north of the 67°00 N circle of latitude
  • At the 64th-67th parallels north at least 60 cm 
  • At most 45 cm in streams or ponds with no migratory connection from the sea or a lake

Protection period: 

  • 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
  • At least 50 cm

Protection period:

Protected between 1.9.–30.11. in rivers and streams.


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

Protection period:

  • Protected between 1.9.–30.11. in rivers and streams.

landlocked salmon with adipose fin
  • At least 60 cm

Protection period:

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

landlocked salmon without adipose fin
  • At least 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
  • At least 60 cm in the Vuoksi water system
  • At least 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 waterway. 

Grayling
  • At least 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
  • At least 42 cm
  • At least 40 cm in sea areas outside the Gulf of Finland (Commercial fishers belonging to group I as specified in section 88 of the Fishing Act [379/2015])

Protection period: No protection period.


eel
  • No minimum catch size.

Protection period:

  • 1.10.–31.1.

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.

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.