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Summer in the Tornio River Valley – a fishermen’s tale

After driving through seemingly endless forests, Luna and Achilles arrived in the city of Tornio at the delta of the Torne or Tornio River in northern Finland. On the opposite bank they could see her Swedish twin city Haparanda: the border between Finland and Sweden runs down the river all the way into the Baltic Sea Gulf of Bothnia.

The over 500-km-long Torne is said to be the longest free-flowing river in Europe: no dams stop fish from migrating up. Already in the Middle Ages it was known as one of the very best places in the Nordic countries for catching fish, and the people in the Tornio Valley have actually kept the fishing methods of the 1200s!


Luna and Achilleas joined a traditional fishing party in Kukkolankoski, a particularly famous fishing spot. It was an inspirational experience, even though our travellers are not fishing experts yet and couldn’t catch any fish..

There might also be another reason, though: the local fish – the whitefish or siika – that migrate up the river during the summer, seem to have changed habit in the last years. They come later, there are fewer and smaller. Worried by this and by the loss of traditional ways, 200 locals set up a project called Tornio Valley Summer White Fish.

This project, supported by the EU, is aimed at preserving and promoting the traditional fishing culture, particularly among young people, while studying the fish itself so that fishermen and researchers can better sustain its numbers and the surrounding nature. The Finnish and Swedish sides of the river are both involved, sharing resources and learning from each other.

Achilleas and Luna got the full traditional Tornio Valley Summer Fish experience: fishing, preparing the (ok, not their own) catch and then enjoying it! It was so relaxed and connected, they both wondered whether this could actually be the perfect place to retire!   

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