Local drive to unlock £1.2m Fisheries Fund

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Aberdeenshire Council, with assistance from Buchan Development Partnership, have arranged a community engagement event which could help open up a £1.2million fund for sustainable development in Aberdeenshire fisheries communities.

The public event will take place on Monday, August 29 at The Harvest Community Church on Peterhead’s Chapel Street at 6.30pm with all sections of the community with an interest invited.

Sandhaven and Pitullie Harbour is ripe for development

Sandhaven and Pitullie Harbour is ripe for development

The meeting is aimed at helping fisheries industries and communities benefit from the European cash such as Cruden Bay which requires urgent funding to repair its harbour defences.

Aberdeenshire Council officers are currently seeking approval from councillors to try to draw down money from the £4.5million European Fisheries Fund’s Axis 4 resource. Its purpose is to increase the capacity of local fishing communities and business networks to build knowledge and skills, and facilitate innovation and cooperation.

Seeking to promote economic diversification and to build capacity in fisheries-dependent communities across the EU, it comes 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.

The programme for this area will be managed by the Aberdeenshire Fisheries Local Action Group, a partnership between the public, private and civic sectors. Public sector partners could include organisations such as Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Coastal Communities Fund (Crown Estate) and the National Lottery.

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

It is thought much of the match-funding required will draw upon council and other programmes already approved, or in preparation, such as Regeneration Priority Zones. Local communities are encouraged to submit views on strategic priorities for the strategy, beginning at the public meetings.

Community-driven projects are encouraged, including those relating to local harbours, tourism, food and drink, renewable energy, training and environmental protection. Dawn Brodie of Buchan Development Partnership said “We would like to encourage representatives from all the coastal communities in Buchan to come along to this event to find out more about this fund and also to make the Aberdeenshire Council officers in attendance aware of the potential projects in the area.”

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

Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC), Peter Argyle, said: “We really need folk from local fisheries communities to attend and engage at the meetings, to help identify which programme priorities are appropriate for their area.

“Their views will then be incorporated into the strategy, which will define which types of projects are most likely to be supported when it launches towards the end of this year.”

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

See here for information on the Scottish Government’s website: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine/grants-subsidies/communities