Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) are set to host Ireland’s networking meeting of the EU’s Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) network today (Friday 14 November 2014) in the Harbour Hotel, Galway.
The networking conference will give Ireland’s FLAG groups an opportunity to network and gain an insight into how the FLAG programme operates in Northern Ireland and Europe. Representatives from across the EU are to discuss how the FLAG network has benefited their respective communities.
At present The European FLAG network includes 300 FLAGS that operate across 21 EU member-states. The FLAG programme is established under Axis 4 of the European Fisheries Fund. The aim of the programme is to empower coastal communities to use the valuable resources they have at their disposal to develop and implement a strategy to increase revenue and employment opportunities for their local areas.
In Ireland, six FLAG’s are now in operation, each of which has published a development strategy for their region. As administers of the programme, BIM has received 139 applications under the FLAG programme to date and THE FLAG’s have approved 127 of these with a total grant aid value of approximately €400,000. The National Implementation Board has approved 127 projects with a total grant-aid figure of approximately €400,000.
Michael Keatinge, BIM’s Interim Chief Executive and Fisheries Development Director explains how this important initiative has benefited Ireland’s coastal communities; ‘We are delighted to be hosting this event today and we would like to warmly welcome all of our European partners and stakeholders. The FLAG programme has already contributed a great deal to our coastal communities. To date, our six FLAG’s have all developed strategies that will deliver a range of vital projects and infrastructure around our coast including marine tourism initiatives, promotion of local seafood, training and up skilling and support measures for fishermen. All of these projects will help to secure additional revenue and employment for our coastal communities. I am very much looking forward to the conference today to hear from our EU colleagues how the FLAG programme has delivered for their regions and how we can best continue to deliver and improve the process’
Speakers at the conference include Kevin McGarry of the South-East FLAG, Northern Ireland; Susan Grieve of FARNET, the European Fisheries Area Network on the European FLAG experience; Seamus Bovaird of the Irish North FLAG on their successful installation of a custom made pontoon for people with disabilities that was implemented through the FLAG and Michael Kennedy of the South-East FLAG on the Dunmore East regeneration project; John Hickey, BIM’s Regional FLAG Coordinator for the South-East on the Irish FLAG experience and Antonio Antonescu from the European Commission on the FLAG network.