Investing in coastal and fisheries communities
With over 40 % of the EU population living in coastal regions, and many new and traditional sectors dependent on our seas and coastal environment, local communities in these areas have a key role to play in building a more sustainable future. Over the last eight years, the European maritime and fisheries policy has invested in supporting such a community-led transition.
During 2007-2013, the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) provided €495 million to support community-led local development in EU fisheries and aquaculture areas, helping to either create or maintain over 20 000 jobs.
The funding is channelled through local public-private partnerships called Fisheries Local Action Groups which bring together relevant stakeholders to design and implement local development strategies through a bottom-up approach. Since 2007, these Groups have supported more than 11 000 projects across the European Union.
This EU-funded support will continue for the period 2014-2020, with over €514 million earmarked for similar investments under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
Going green and blue
Priorities vary from one country to another and from one area to another, depending on local challenges, potential and opportunities. Diversification, sustainability and investment in the blue and green economy are a common thread and many of the projects supported are contributing directly to these aims.
One example is the "biofuel for boats' cooperation project between fishing communities in Ostrobothnia (Finland) and Saint-Jean-de-Luz (France), which has enabled the transfer of good practice in the use of biofuels for fishing boats. While the FiskOnline project, supported by the Blekinge FLAG in Sweden, has helped local fishermen achieve the coveted KRAV certificate of sustainability for cod, increasing their profits by 20-25 %.
Other projects have focused on the conversion to organic production in the aquaculture sector (Germany), water purification (Poland), exploiting waste resources (Spain), renewable energy production (Finland) and eco-tourism (Sweden).
For the period 2014-2020, environmental protection, combating and adapting to climate change and investment in the blue/green economy will remain important priorities for community-led local development under the EMFF.