Fiskars catches thousands of crayfish
Company renowned for its scissors also catches crayfish, hunts elk, and runs sawmill
By Elina Kervinen
A white float on the surface of a still lake indicates the location of a crayfish trap. Gamekeeper Sami Jernström tells his colleague Thomas Stenström to slow down, as he reaches out of the boat to grab the rope.
Soon a blue basket rises to the surface. On the bottom of the trap there are about 20 signal crayfish, seven of which are big enough to be kept.
“It is a good catch. It is good if there are two even salable crayfish - of over 11 centimetres in length”, Stenström says.
Stenström has been catching crayfish in the lake near the Fiskars ironworks village for six years, and this past week, he has been doing it on four days.
He is paid for this efforts by the design company Fiskars, which is famous for its scissors.
In addition to catching crayfish, Fiskars also hunts, farms, and runs a sawmill. A total of 24 men and women work in the property unit of the company, which takes care of such operations. There are also four hunting dogs.
“This would not seem to be exactly typical activities for a listed company in the metals business”, says Stenström, who holds the title of gamekeeper.
Fiskars owns nearly 15,000 hectares of land in West Uusimaa, both near the ironworks and on the Hanko peninsula. There are more than 3,500 hectares of water area, 100 lakes, and 250 kilometres of shoreline.
Stenström says that the rural activities are mainly about tradition, and the utilisation of the natural resources owned by the company: as the land and water is there, it would be foolish not to take advantage of what they provide.
Fiskars employees have been trapping crayfish for about 40 years.
The idea was originally that of the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute. The crayfish plague had devastated native populations of crayfish, and the institute wanted to try stocking the company’s waters with foreign signal crayfish, which are resistant to the fungal disease. Fiskars was interested in the project and took responsibility for it.
In the first ten years crayfish trapping was largely experimental, and was seen as merely an enjoyable hobby. The crustaceans were trapped, and taken from one shore to another to see if they would multiply.
Then the work finally paid off.
“It has always been small, but huge amounts of time and cigarettes have been gone into this”, Stenström says.
Nowadays, catching crayfish is actually profitable, although admittedly a fairly small proportion on the company’s balance sheets. About 15,000 saleable crayfish are caught each season. While some of them are consumed at the Fiskars Manor at the company’s own social events, the total profits are only in the tens of thousands of euros.
After crayfish season comes the hunting season.
Each year, about 10,000 kilos of elk and white-tailed deer shot on Fiskars land are sold to restaurants and wholesalers. Stenström also organises hunts for corporate and conference groups from Finland and abroad.
Once back on shore, the men count their morning catch. Today, on a Thursday in August, a total of 640 crayfish crawl around in the boxes.
“This year the season has been slightly better than last year”, Stenström says.
Soon the men load the white boxes into the back of a van, and set course for the nearby town of Tammisaari, where the live crayfish are taken directly to a local market for sale.
When the work is done, the men have breakfast and can rest for a few hours. In the evening the boats go back to the lake and the traps are lowered into the water.
“It is quite romantic, working, watching the sun come up and go down. It’s just that the company could leave something to be desired”, Jernström jokes, glancing at his colleague Stenström.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 22.8.2009
Previously in HS International Edition:
Poor availability of licences encourages crayfish poaching by city residents (31.7.2009)
Finnish Food Safety Authority (EVIRA) Can you prevent crayfish plague?
ELINA KERVINEN / Helsingin Sanomat