Following the official launch earlier this year of the ‘Axis 4 – Sustainable Development of Fishery Dependent Areas Programme’, an exciting new initiative to empower and support our coastal communities, BIM is pleased to announce the Fisheries Local Action Group or ‘FLAG’ responsible for the North-West region (Killary, Co. Galway to Sligo Leitrim border) was officially established today, the 12th December at an inaugural meeting in the Ballina Hotel, Ballina, Co. Mayo.
Coordinated by Declan Nee, BIM Regional FLAG Coordinator for the North-Western area, the group comprises of representatives from the fisheries, community, county council and tourism sectors and will be charged with developing a strategy for their area over the coming months.
The aim of the Axis 4 programme funded by the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and administered by BIM, is to empower fishing and aquaculture reliant 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 respective areas.
The North-West FLAG is the fourth group to be established under this important programme. The West, South-East and North FLAGs are already in place with the remaining FLAGs for the South-West and North-East to be established in early 2013.
Each FLAG is responsible for delivering a strategy for their area on a devolved basis. The groups will formulate a local development strategy that identifies suitable projects that require financial or expert assistance. With the development of these strategies, there will be a call for projects from individuals and local communities. To qualify for funding, projects must satisfy specific criteria. For example, projects must be based in coastal areas (with the exception of areas of populations in excess of 15,000) and not located more than 10kms from the sea. In addition, projects must have a clearly identifiable marine connection or provide a specific benefit to a fishing region. In many cases, beneficiaries of support will be required to be either workers in the fisheries sector or persons with a job linked to the sector.
The North-West FLAG will be meeting regularly in the coming months to kickstart the strategy process which will include consultations with the local community.
Attending the inaugural meeting of North West Regional Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) in Hotel Ballina were Declan Nee, seated centre, flanked by Francis Watters (Shellfish Buyer Sligo), Mary Catherine Heanue (Mayo Islands Rep), Mary Wrafter (Community Enterprise Mayo Co Council and Jacqui D. Uí Mhonachain (Coastal Community Rep Aughleim). Standing from left, Seamus Breathnach BIM., Sean O’Coisdeahbha (Udaras na Gaeltachta), Eamon Dixon (Erris Fishing Rep), Terence Devers (Coastal Community Achill), Niall Byrne (Processing/Buying Killala Community), Anthony Irwin (Erris Fishing Rep), and Gerard Hassett (Seafood Processor Achill).