The Rotary’s Silakkasoutu (Rowing for Baltic Herring) event was held on October 1st, traditionally on the first Sunday of the Helsinki Herring Market. In this charity event, about 300 participants from Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Italy rowed in church boats from Töölönlahti to Market Square. This year, the event also introduced a separate route along the shore for walkers.

“Herring Walk was a success and increased the number of participants from last year. The walkers’ route offered views of the church boats progressing on Töölönlahti and opportunities to learn about the Baltic Sea at the checkpoint stations of BSAG and the City of Helsinki’s Baltic Sea Challenge,” says Markku Juhola, the chair of the event’s organizing committee from Riihimäki-Hausjärvi Rotary Club.

The proceeds of the charity event, held for the 11th time in 2023, was donated on January 23, 2024, to the Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG) for underwater marine conservation work. The event’s theme was stopping the loss of underwater nature: Long Live Marine Nature!

“There is still much life worth protecting beneath the surface of the Baltic Sea. We are happy and grateful for the Rotarians’ help in preserving this valuable underwater treasure. It was fun to participate in an event that conveyed the love of both the organizers and participants for the Baltic Sea,” says Anna Klemelä, project manager for marine conservation at the Baltic Sea Action Group.

“Over the years, the event has collected over 80,000 euros for the Baltic Sea. In previous years, we have directed funds to equipment for the research vessel Aranda and automatic water quality measurement in the Vantaa River basin. This year’s donation pot was 1000 euros more than last year, coming from participation fees, raffles, and sponsor income,” Juhola reports.

The proceeds from the Herring Rowing were donated to the Baltic Sea Action Group at the Herttoniemi Rotary Club’s weekly meeting on January 23. In the picture are Elina Ranta from BSAG, Markku Juhola and Erkki Ilus from the Silakkasoutu steering group, and Helena Kangas, president of the Herttoniemi club.

Rowing and Walking Event Culminated in a Baltic Sea Seminar

The Herring Rowing and Walk culminated in a herring lunch served at the University of Helsinki in UniCafe Porthania, followed by the Long Live Marine Nature! Seminar. At the event, Associate Professor Joanna Norkko from the Tvärminne Zoological Station of the University of Helsinki spoke about Baltic Sea research, and Anna Klemelä of BSAG discussed the Gullkrona Conservation Area establishment project. Additionally, Prof. Pierangelo Metrangolo, chair of the Environmental Committee of Rotary District 2050, brought greetings from the Italian Alps. Inspired by the Rowing for Herring event, Italian Rotarians have started protecting the Alps glaciers, which are threatened by melting due to climate change.

“The concern for the Baltic Sea brings together many actors. Environmental protection is one of Rotary’s international focus areas, and here in Finland, we collaborate extensively with organizations, governments, and businesses. Our goal is to raise awareness about the Baltic Sea’s situation and provide a way to take action to improve it,” Juhola says.

The event is organized by eight Rotary clubs: Finlandia Hall and its satellite club, Helsinki Baltic Sea, Helsinki International, Herttoniemi-Hertonäs, Meri-Espoo, Pasila-Fredriksberg, Riihimäki-Hausjärvi, and Vantaa-Myyrmäki. The Rotary District 1420 of Southern Finland and Estonia is also involved.

The sponsors and partners for the 2023 event were: the University of Helsinki, Finlandia Hall and Pikku-Finlandia, Paptic Oy, Viking Line, K-Supermarket Hertta, Ventoniemi, Helsinki Rotary Club, Picaset Oy, Helsinki Baltic Herring Market, Baltic Sea Challenge/City of Helsinki, Job’d -youth, Sulkava boat, LocalTapiola, The Helsinki Finnish Club, and the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre.

Event website: