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Friday's papers: Ministry ups aid for ringed seals, bare-chested flash mob protest, massive rains coming

Ringed seal net deaths prompt new measures, a demonstration to normalise women's bodies and torrents on the way.

There are less than 400 Saimaa ringed seals (Pusa hispida saimensis) in the world. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry announced on Thursday that it would redouble its efforts to protect the endangered Saimaa ringed seal after reports of dead pups arose earlier in the week.

Daily Aamulehti wrote that the ministry will establish a new working group in August to step up protection for the animal, which is unique to Finland's Saimaa lake system. The ministry said the group intends to deliver a plan to survey and restrict fishing activities in the ringed seal's habitat by 2021, when the current restriction expires.

An annual springtime ban on net fishing in the heartland of the endangered species begins on 15 April and is lifted on the last day of June. According to AL the corpses of four Saimaa ringed seal pups were found tangled in fishing nets in early July, one week after this year's prohibition ended.

"This is extremely sad," Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Jari Leppä told AL. "None of us wants to see any more dead pups."

Ordinary citizens have reacted to the seal deaths by pushing for a year-round ban on the use of fishing nets in seal habitats. In just two days (at time of writing) more than 37,000 people had signed a citizens' initiative to completely outlaw net fishing in such regions. Legal reforms introduced in 2011 require Finland's Parliament to consider initiatives with at least 50,000 signatures.

Bare naked ladies against body shaming

In other activist news, tabloid Iltalehti covers a form of civil protest that is still new to Finland: a bare-chested flash mob of women and men demanding that everyone should have the right to walk around topless in public.

The prime movers of the first such demonstration in early June, Säde Vallaren and Sandra Marins, announced that the second ever Finnish "boob flash mob" will be organised at the Hietaniemi beach on Saturday.

Both activists said in IL that the first ever such flash mob at the same location was "empowering, calm, beautiful and sisterly".

"There was an almost magical atmosphere," said Marins. "It was amazing to see the range of emotions people were experiencing."

Vallaren said that even though both organisers have received trolling messages and threats, no counter-protesters were to be seen at the beach demo. Police, too, were briefly on site but did not intervene, according to IL.

The paper also mentions blogger Emilia Huttunen, who made international headlines by posting a social media photo of herself naked, but with her husband's nipples edited over the image in a bid to bypass the censorship of online platforms.

Vallaren and Marins said that after Saturday the next flash mob could take place at the Helsinki Central Railway Station, an environment they say may turn out to be very different to the warmth of sandy Hietaniemi. Both said their work to quell the "shock value" of women's bodies has only just begun.

"We won't stop until people are no longer upset by a woman's naked breasts," they said.

Finland getting "unlucky" weather

Beaches in southern Finland will likely stay quite empty over the weekend, as the weather takes a wet and dramatic turn.

Daily Helsingin Sanomat wrote that two fronts of warm air will bypass Finland, causing temperature dips and dozens of millimetres of torrential rainfall.

"Some regions may experience a full month's rain in just this one weekend," Foreca meteorologist Markus Mäntykangas told HS.

He said that such fluctuations are common in Finland's brief summer months. The current cold slump may last for another week, but Mäntykangas said the return of warmer conditions are just a matter of time.

"People in Finland are unlucky right now. There's time still for sweltering days all the way into September."

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