Sharing the whitefish

Sharing the whitefish

Sharing the whitefish is one of the most intriguing fenomena of the dipnetting culture. The tradition is very much alive in Kukkolankoski rapids and it attracts visitors from near and far in the summer evenings.

While shift dipnetting is on, the catch of the day is shared between the fishing right owners by an age old system. About the same size whitefish are shared in piles which are then raffled to their owner farms. Each farm further shares the pile in smaller parts among the member houses according to the historical tax value, “mantal”. This numeric practise makes the sharing equal and easy to execute without weighing the catch.

The sharing happens on the rapids field in front of the old fish shed when the dipnetting shifts change at 6 pm. Villagers and visitors alike gather to small talk and hear stories about the happening of the day. Seeing the fishermen throwing the whitefish on several piles according to some non-verbal rule feels like a visit to the history which it actually is, the tradition having existed for centuries.

Back in times a tenth of the catch was given to the priest. This practice faded after the Second World War. These days the dipnetters who did the shift first choose a fish each, then the “salary whitefish” is shared for the farms in shift. After these parts the rest of the catch is shared between the farms. There are only a few people who remember the whole complex system which looks very mysterious for an outsider.