Aberdeen Council looks to EU for fisheries funding – Fishupdate.com

Aberdeen Council looks to EU for fisheries funding Published:  24 August, 2011

ABERDEEN councillors have given their backing to work to try to draw down cash from the £4.5 million European Fisheries Fund’s Axis 4 resource.

Local fisheries industries and communities could benefit from the new European fund to assist sustainable development, with £1.2million allocated to the area.

Its purpose is to increase the capacity of local fishing communities and business networks to build knowledge and skills, and facilitate innovation and cooperation.

It seeks to promote economic diversification and to build capacity in fisheries-dependent communities across the EU, with the proviso there must be no consequent increase in catching effort.

The programme will be managed by Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs), which will represent the fisheries areas in which they are based, and implement an Axis 4 local development strategy for their area once it has been agreed.

In particular, Axis 4 supports measures to promote:

    * the strengthening and competitiveness of fisheries areas    * restructuring and redirecting economic activities    * business diversification and value-adding activities    * supporting small fisheries and tourism-related infrastructure and services    * for the benefit of small fisheries communities    * protecting the environment in fisheries areas    * re-establishing the production potential following natural and industrial disasters    * inter-regional and trans-national co-operation.

The intended beneficiaries include micro, small, medium sized enterprises, third sector organisations and public sector organisations.

Marine Scotland has identified Aberdeenshire as one of the key beneficiary fisheries areas under the programme, allocating a provisional budget of £1.2 million from the resource, which will require match-funding by the public sector.

Members of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) recently agreed (August 18) officers should undertake the necessary work to establish a Fisheries Local Action Group and undertake community consultation in order to develop the Local Fisheries Development Strategy for Aberdeenshire, to be submitted to Marine Scotland.

Councillors committed the council to helping to identify sources of public-sector match-funding, identifying and recruiting appropriate candidates for the Fisheries Local Action Group, providing the chairman and bearing some set-up and administrative costs.

The committee approved Aberdeenshire Council as the Lead Partner for the European Fisheries Fund Axis 4 Programme for the benefit of enterprises and communities in the eligible area of Aberdeenshire.

The programme for the area will be managed by the Aberdeenshire Fisheries Local Action Group, a partnership between the public, private and civic sectors.

The FLAG will develop and implement a Local Fisheries Development Strategy (LFDS) and will assess and approve applications for funding under the project.

The Aberdeenshire LFDS will have to be drawn up and submitted to Marine Scotland by September 9, following consultation with local stakeholders to determine regional priorities.

The council is holding a series of community engagement events in August, to which all sections of the community with an interest are invited. See here: http://bit.ly/pOpFwg

Communities are encouraged to submit views on strategic priorities for the strategy.

Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC), Peter Argyle, said: “I think everybody will welcome the fact that Aberdeenshire has been provisionally allocated this money from the fund.

“This is an excellent piece of good news for our local fishing communities. The coastline of Aberdeenshire is a fantastic natural asset with tremendous wildlife tourism potential and wonderful coastal villages and towns.

“We believe that this programme can help express the full economic potential of coastal Aberdeenshire.”

Vice-chair Jill Webster said: “The community engagement events have so far been well-attended, and there seems to be no shortage of ideas for ways in which this funding could be used.

“I would encourage local groups to get together and start to identify suitable projects and potential sources of public sector match funding, such as the Coastal Communities Fund, in advance of the official launch of EFF Axis 4, to ensure Aberdeenshire coastal communities get off to a flying start and derive the maximum benefit from the programme.”

Budgets will be confirmed by Marine Scotland during October. It is anticipated FLAGs will become operational and consider project applications in November 2011.

The Axis 4 programme will contribute to a number of the council’s economic development priorities, including: encouraging businesses to be more market-focused and add value, working with partners to strengthen the market for Aberdeenshire fisheries, helping businesses to develop new products or enter new markets, and helping safeguard existing jobs.

It has the potential to lead to new employment opportunities in previously fisheries dependent communities.

Community-driven projects are encouraged, including those relating to local harbours, tourism, food and drink, renewable energy, training and environmental protection.

It is thought much of the public-sector match-funding required will draw upon council and other programmes already approved, or in preparation, such as Regeneration Priority Zones.

Public sector partners could include organisations such as Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Coastal Communities Fund (Crown Estate) and the National Lottery.

At £1.2 million, Aberdeenshire has a significant share of the Scottish budget of £4.5 million. Funds need to be committed by the end of 2013, although the cash drawdown period extends to the end of 2015.

For further information or to contact Aberdeenshire Council about the development of the local strategy, please email: eff@aberdeenshire.gov.uk