The grant is being made available through the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) – a public body helping to deliver the government's vision for marine management – and paid by the European Fisheries Fund (EFF). It will be used by the North and West Cumbria Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) – a grassroots organisation representing fishing communities along the Cumbrian coast from Silloth to Ravenglass, a FLAG spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk. The money will be used to create businesses to support local fisheries and to promote their produce through a new brand for Cumbrian seafood.
The ideas for the new businesses and brand will come from fishermen and local community, added the spokesman.
Carolyn Cadman, MMO director of customers and partnerships, said: “The FLAG involves a wide range of representatives and we believe their combined knowledge, experience and ideas could make a real difference to the future of the local fisheries sector. This is reflected in the significant amount of funding our panel has awarded to them.”
The FLAG has set a minimum target of creating four businesses to aid the local community, but will create more if funds allow. The money from the grant must be allocated by 2012 and the projects have to be created by 2015.
Businesses with the most potential for value and job creation will be given priority, the FLAG spokesman said. The total number of new jobs will depend on what ideas are developed.
“This is grass roots decision making at work,” said the FLAG spokesman. “It’s pretty unusual for an organisation at this funding level to let people make decisions which are out of the organisations’ control,” said the spokesman.
One idea under consideration is the creation of a local fish-processing centre. The northwest of Cumbria produces significant amounts of langoustines but these are processed elsewhere in the UK and overseas. Developing a local processing centre would help to keep more money in the county, said the spokesman.
Tony Cunningham, MP for Allerdale said: “The FLAG should be congratulated on securing this investment for our area. I would urge the fishing communities in West Cumbria to become members of the FLAG and have a real say in how this money is allocated.”
The fund will also be used to help people complete fishery industry apprenticeships and to develop an educational programme to change the perceptions of fishing, the spokesman added.
Last year, more than 4,100t of seafood, valued at £4.4M, was landed at ports within the FLAG area.