Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Fisheries Working Group Cllr Charles Buchan has hailed the results delivered by the Aberdeenshire European Fisheries Fund (AEFF) and the economic boost given to Fraserburgh Harbour.
At the start of this month, the 2012-2015 AEFF funding programme officially closed. Financed by the European Commission, the programe was administered locally by the Aberdeenshire Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) partnership, in which Aberdeenshire Council is the lead partner.
More than £650,000 of economic development funding has helped deliver £2.1million of projects in the North-east’s coastal communities.
Applicants were awarded more than £650,000 in Axis 4 EFF grants, helping to deliver a total value of £2.1million of projects.
The programme funded 24 projects promoting economic diversification both within and outwith the fishing industry; building capacity in communities, creating training and job opportunities and revitalising fisheries areas.
Two new businesses and 27 full time jobs were created as a direct result.
Fraserburgh Harbour benefited from two AEFF-funded projects, including the installation of pontoons allowing 30-40 smaller vessels to use the port on a regular basis.
This transformed the harbour’s South Basin, developing it into a community asset and enabling Harbour Commissioners to diversify further through increased trade and income from extra berthing capabilities.
WiFi was installed in both Fraserburgh fish markets, after users expressed concerns about mobile phone connectivity during daily fish auction sales.
Other projects included the conversion of an unused fisheries building at Whitehills Marina into a high quality seafood restaurant, a new boat launching ramp way installed at Macduff Harbour, the restoration of a derelict building at Portsoy Harbour into a Boatshed and a one-tonne ice machine installed at Banff Harbour.
The Fisheries Local Action Group has undertaken an evaluation of the AEFF programme to measure the success of its delivery and assess how well priorities in the Local Development Strategy have been met.
Commenting, Cllr Buchan said: “It was a pleasure to visit some of the projects and businesses along the Banffshire coast recently who have benefitted from this funding programme.
“I pay tribute to the small team at Aberdeenshire Council who have worked with the community to raise awareness of these funding opportunities and for the work they have done in guiding applicants through the process.
“The projects concerned are excellent examples of how such a scheme can help local communities to deliver an economic boost to their area by supporting local entrepeneurs.”
Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Economic Development and FLAG chair, Belinda Miller, said: “The projects approved during the AEFF programme will provide a lasting legacy in Aberdeenshire’s fisheries areas.
“AEFF has delivered a wide range of projects that collectively improve people’s lives and businesses in the area through the provision of regeneration, diversification and capacity building.
“The fund has provided real opportunities for economic and social prosperity in coastal communities through the creation of jobs, new businesses and training provided.
“My thanks go to all those public sector bodies that provided the co-finance to match the Axis 4 grants, as well as the AEFF team who administered the programme”.
The council’s European Team is now focusing its attention on the new EMFF (European Maritime Fisheries Fund) programme in the hope of securing a further allocation of Axis 4 fisheries funds for Aberdeenshire in the new European Funded period from 2014 to 2020.
When the Aberdeenshire FLAG has a new allocation of funding confirmed, events will be arranged in coastal areas to inform potential applicants about the eligibility criteria.
It is anticipated that this new fund would be launched in January 2016.