DAERA and SEAFLAG launch £2.4million scheme for fishing communities

Date published: 19 June 2018


The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the South-East Area Fisheries Local Action Group (SEAFLAG) today officially launched a £2.4million Community-led Local Development (CLLD) initiative for County Down fishing communities.

The £2.4million investment programme is provided through Union Priority 4 of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). It aims to support a broad range of projects that focus on promoting economic growth through job creation, social inclusion and providing support to employability and labour mobility in coastal and inland communities which depend on fishing and aquaculture. This includes the diversification of activities within fisheries and into other sectors of the maritime economy.   

The funding programme will be administered by the SEAFLAG which comprises of representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors within the two council regions of Newry, Mourne & Down, and Ards & North Down.

Speaking at the launch event in Ardglass, DAERA Marine and Fisheries Director Dr. John Speers said: “This fund provides the opportunity to deliver meaningful and sustainable socio-economic benefits to the communities along the County Down coastline that continue to rely on the fishing industry, either directly or via its associated support industries, for job opportunities and wealth-creation.  

“The bottom-up approach used in developing the SEAFLAG’s sustainable development strategy for delivering Community-led Local Development has drawn upon the experiences gained from delivering a similar programme of support provided through the preceding European Fisheries Fund programme. This approach will help ensure that the available support will focus on addressing the needs of communities that they themselves have identified.

“I commend SEAFLAG in delivering the required strategy and would encourage anyone with any project, or project idea, that is linked to community, business, tourism or leisure development to engage with the delivery body to determine what financial and/or technical assistance can be provided.

“This funding represents one of the largest allocations awarded to any Fisheries Local Action Group throughout Europe and should serve as a sign of confidence DAERA holds in SEAFLAG’s ability to deliver a meaningful programme of benefits.”

In confirming that the programme would open for applications on 2 July, the Chair of SEAFLAG, Alderman Angus Carson said: “I am delighted that our local fisheries communities of Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie now have the opportunity to benefit from EMFF CLLD funding. In the current economic climate, we all need to be resourceful, flexible and be prepared to adapt to change. 

“I feel this fund provides an exciting opportunity for us all to continue to strengthen and diversify our economy and society and make a real difference to our local communities through developing and delivering innovative projects.

“We are looking forward to accepting a wide range of applications coming through following today’s launch and would encourage everyone who feels they may benefit from this much-needed support to attend the afternoon and evening workshops organised for Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie on 25, 26 and 27 June. Or, contact the SEAFLAG office to discuss what support could be provided.”

The Chairman of Newry Mourne and Down District Council Mark Murnin also welcomed the opportunities that the substantial EMFF funding provided for County Down’s fishing communities. He encouraged the continuation of the partnership working that had worked so well through the consultation process associated with the development of the sustainable development strategy. He said: “It is encouraging to see how councils and SEAFLAG members, along with DAERA officials, have worked so well together to develop an innovative programme for delivery which will help raise the profile of the entire South East area of County Down.”

Also welcoming today’s announcement, the Mayor of Ards and North Down Council Richard Smart stressed the importance of ongoing partnership working between the public and private sectors as SEAFLAG moved into the delivery phase of the programme. He added: "It is essential that we continue to make every effort to ensure good quality and timely applications are submitted to SEAFLAG when the funding opens on 2 July, to ensure that the generous EMFF allocation is fully utilised across the entire target area and that all the projects fully contribute to the sustainable development of our fishing areas."

Notes to editors: 

1. Photo caption - Launching the £2.4million Community-led Local development scheme at Ardglass today are from left to right: DAERA Marine and Fisheries Director Dr. John Speers, Mayor of Ards and North Down Council Richard Smart, Chair of SEAFLAG Alderman Angus Carson, Chairman of Newry Mourne and Down District Council Mark Murnin and Director of Enterprise, Regeneration & Tourism Newry, Mourne and Down Council, Marie Ward.

2. The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EFF) Programme will provide the NI fishing industry with €18.3million of grant assistance until it closes for applications on 31 December 2020. The European Commission is providing €13.73million of support with the remaining €4.58million being provided by Executive funds.

3. EMFF support is provided under 6 Union Priorities, namely:

  • Union Priority 1           Sustainable development of fisheries
  • Union Priority 2           Sustainable development of aquaculture
  • Union Priority 3           Control and enforcement, data collection
  • Union Priority 4           Community–led local development strategies
  • Union Priority 5           Marketing and processing related measures
  • Union Priority 6           Integrated Maritime Policy

4. Council Regulation (EC) No 508/2014 (the "EMFF Regulation") provides further information on what proposals are eligible for support under the Programme. Articles 60 - 64 relate to Union Priority – Community–led local development.

5. The programme will open for applications on 2 July 2018 and detailed guidance will be available from that date by visiting the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council website or DAERA website or by contacting the SEAFLAG Admin Unit on 028 4461 0800.  

6. The department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website. 

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8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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