Environmental responsibility

Gray heron

As fish farmers and processors, we follow the principles of sustainable operations throughout the production chain. That is why it is very important for us to have an environmentally friendly feed so that it has a minimal impact on the environment. We also grow shellfish in our Saaremaa farm, which purify and filter water, reducing the environmental impact of fish farming. Our goal is to use environmentally friendly materials in Heimon Kala product packaging - the film and plastic have either been replaced with cardboard and wood pulp in some products or a partially recyclable film has been used. Investing in modern packaging machines and the use of solar energy will help us achieve all this.

The Group owns fish farms in Sweden, Finland and Estonia, as well as fish production facilities in Estonia, Finland and Great Britain. These facilities have an impact on the environment. As a company operating sustainably, we are aware of our global responsibility for preservation of natural resources and unharmed environment, which is why we attempt to keep the environmental impact of our activities at a minimum level and further reduce our ecological footprint by employing as cost-efficient resources as possible.

According to the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System Act, fishing industry is an activity with a significant environmental impact. A possible impact of fish farms on nature is related to the emission of wastewater generated in farms and pollutants contained therein (mainly nitrogen and phosphorus) into seawater and lake water and, as a result, deterioration of water quality. Deterioration of water quality in turn may damage habitats or the living environment of birds and animals. Concentration and distribution of pollutants depends on the production technology used, on the quantity of fish feed and on sea currents, wind directions and other environmental factors.

Fish farming requires a water abstraction permit as an operating permit that is issued for a period of 7 to 10 years. We actively mitigate our environmental impact under the strict supervision of environmental authorities. We ensure adherence to all necessary measures for maximum reduction of the negative environmental impact in all main stages of fish production and processing in our sites. In addition, we contribute by deploying ecological technologies in our fish farms and production facilities. In our investments, we observe the principles of the corresponding BAT (Best Available Technique) method.

The Group has developed a new fish feed recipe that results in a 13.5% reduction in nitrogen emissions and a 30.3% reduction in phosphorus in the water. The work continues in this area with the next year’s aim to reduce the phosphorus release to 47.7% compared to standard feeds as phosphorus is limiting the formation of cyanobacteria. The new fish feed was tested in Saaremaa and Sweden in the summer of 2019 and the results are positive.

We have installed shellfish farming lines in Saaremaa at a cost of about 40 thousand euros and are currently gaining experience in industrial shellfish farming in Estonian coastal waters. According to calculations, shellfish farming should compensate 20% of the nitrogen and phosphorus emissions of fish farming.

In Finland, we have developed a completely new wastewater treatment solution to treat wastewater from fish gutting, and testing will begin in October 2019. The aim is to significantly improve the efficiency of nutrient purification from wastewater. After the tests, similar systems are planned to be introduced in Sweden and Estonia.

In Finland, we participated in a CWPharma study conducted in 2017-2018 analysing seabed sediments and investigating the impact of human activities and fish farming on seabed sediments, the results of which will be published in 2019.

In Sweden, we invested 691 thousand Swedish kronas to purchase a fully professional oil harvesting equipment to prevent oil in fish feed from leaking to beaches in the immediate vicinity.

All of our farms are equipped with state-of-the-art water quality monitoring sensors and the results of the water monitoring of all breeding sites are continuously visible through the cloud service.

We are actively involved in various innovation and environmental projects such as UKIPOLIS in Finland (design of sediment separation cushion in the Baltic Sea), Sustainable cage farming in Denmark and in the Joint Baltic Sea Fisheries Working Group.

In Sweden, we have conducted a number of large-scale environmental surveys in the past financial year with independent parties (continuous monitoring of terrestrial farm outlet water, bottom sediment survey in and near cage breeding) to effectively demonstrate the low environmental impact of modern fish farming. So far, the results of the analysis have proven that the environmental impact is minimal, and our previously presented estimates have tended to be conservative.

For several years we have been an innovation partner of the Finnish Natural Resources Center (LUKE) in carrying out various research on fish farming, and for the second year we are participating in a joint study by the Finnish Center for Natural Resources and Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), which aims to measure the effects of the aquaculture environment with the help of Copernicus satellite.

As a packager of fishery products, the Group has been active in ensuring that the Group's packaging materials are friendly to the environment. Among other things, the Group is committed to improving sustainability and reducing food waste in combination with better product packaging on retail shelves.

During the last financial year, an innovative packaging solution was introduced, which, in addition to reducing the footprint by 70% when following the principles of recycling, further reduces the CO2 footprint by approximately 25% and the share of plastic in packaging by about 20%.

The use of plastic has been reduced in the group both in final product and in the production:

·       The film packaging of the final product has been replaced by thinner ones.

·       Production processes have been reorganized so that intermediate packaging of semi-finished products is not required, so the total volume of film packaging used has decreased.

The plastics are still used by the Group in packaging primarily due to a combination of its positive properties such as versatility, strength, lightness, stability, impermeability and maintaining products sterile. The light weight of plastic simplifies handling products throughout the production chain until it reaches an end client resulting in less transport emissions.

The Group 's choice of packaging manufacturers is also based on matching values, thus being guided by environmental aspects and sustainability.

As an international fish producer, the Group continues to focus its activities on moving towards environment friendly solutions throughout its production processes also in the coming years.