A living island


Vinön – Wine island – is an island 5 km2 big in Lake Hjälmaren, Sweden’s fourth largest lake.

Although too small to reach English Wikipedia, there are like 212 people on this beautiful island: 100 year-round residents (x 365 days = 36,500), 400 summer residents (x 90 days = 36,000), and 100 weekenders (x 50 days = 5,000), a total of 77,500 mandays which is 212 if you divide it by 365. 212 people is the average human pressure on the island’s electricity grid, roads, water wells, waste treatment, ferries and ecosystem. 212 people is the average number of people using the island, tourists uncounted.

I am treated with locally grazed Hereford, locally caged crayfish and locally fished pike-perch. Regarding pike-perch, the vinings have done very well. There was danger of stocks being overfished in the 1990s, but with the help of fisheries curator Per Nyberg, researcher at and president of the Swedish Freshwater Research Institute, they managed to reverse the trend. Per travelled a lot, talking to fishermen, gathering samples, and convinced the fishermen to switch to larger meshes. Gradually they developed a sustainable fishing process and Lake Hjälmaren is now the only lake in the world where fishing is certified by MSC (Marine Stewardship Council). All of us have the choice to eat MSC-labelled seafood as a recognition and an encouragement to the fishermen using sustainable fishing practices, fishing on viable populations. So did Swedish Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist, choosing fried, lightly salted pike-perch from Lake Hjälmaren as the main course of their magnificent weeding this summer. Nice puff for the brand hjalmarpikeperch! Half of Lake Hjälmarens 20-25 fishermen live on Vinön, ten percent of the permanent residents live from fishing.

Lake Hjälmaren – the water surrounding Vinön – is of great practical, cultural and economic importance to the island. Would it be wrong to state that Vinon has an area of 100 km2, of which 6% is land and 94% is water? Vinon is where Southern Lake Hjälmaren meets Large Lake Hjälmaren. To the west of Vinön, waters are private, to the east and north they are common. Lake Hjälmaren is 1 lake administrated by 3 counties and 5 municipalities. Not an easy arrangement when you want an island and its surrounding waters to survive end develop.

This is why Vinöns Cultural and Heritage Association was formed in 1991. It’s motto is A living island, dealing with administration, water, waste, ferry transports, environmental issues, events and information. Its is the voice of all the residents – all-year and part-time. I meet with chairman Peter Kumlin who is a Formula 3 enthusiast competing with an Effyh TT (http://www.500race.org/Competition/Goodwood%20Results%20170911.htm)

, outdoor educator Eva Widlund (formerly the island’s teacher) and Rosie Hellén, who is my student at the Open University in Åland How to Read an Island course. A vibrant board in a vivid association on a living island.


Ferry terminal on mainland


Road on Vinön


Morning on Vinön


Young Hereford


Peter Kumlin



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