Sustainable fishing in clean waters

The Nurmes, North Karelia-based Pielisen Kalajaloste Oy will soon be producing up to 30,000 cans of fish per day. The operation is driven by a love of a clean environment and fishing.

Pielisen Kalajaloste Oy is a family-owned business established in 1994, still operating out of their birthplace in Pitkäkoski, Nurmes. Markus and Raakel Tolvanen and their children run the production amidst the scenic, hilly North Karelian landscape.

Markus Tolvanen discovered his passion for fishing at an early age in those same surroundings. As a little boy, he would have trouble sleeping if he had not caught any fish during the day. At that point, he’d sometimes sneak out of his bedroom window and head to the shore to prepare for the next day’s fishing trip. His love of nature eventually led Tolvanen to become a logger in the familiar woods.

Pielisen Kalajaloste was first conceived when Tolvanen decided to swap his logging machine to a fish cleaning machine and buy his first boat. At first, he fished just for his own needs and gave away the extra fish to his fellow villagers. Gradually, the hunger began to grow, and net fishing became trawling.

”We want to replace tuna with natural domestic fish”

Soon, the fish started biting to such a generous degree that selling fresh fish had to make way for preservation.

“In 1998, we had three different kinds of canned fish in tomato sauce. Back then, we still did everything in different buildings”, Markus Tolvanen recalls.

From there, the operation and the product selection have both grown into the current scale the company operates at. Pielisen Kalajaloste employs 13 workers and produces over 3,000 cans of fish each day. The entire production process happens in a single building. In summer 2019, a new extension for the factory will open, along with a production line that allows increasing production tenfold.

“We want to replace the overfished tuna with ethical, domestic natural fish in Finnish everyday dining”, state Markus and Raakel Tolvanen.

Although the demand for canned fish products is constantly growing, and the company’s operation with it, Markus Tolvanen is still driven by the same passion that in his childhood inspired him to sneak out and go fishing.

“I just want to fish. There’s nothing better than that excitement when you wonder if you’ll catch a fish or not.”