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FLAG factsheet - Finland - Österbotten

Offical name: 
Aktion Österbotten r.f / KAG
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Description of the area and its main challenges

The FLAG operates along the Ostrobothnian coastline in the Baltic Sea covering a stretch of 250-km on the west coast of Finland from Karleby in the north to Kristinestad in the south. Hundreds of islands make the area look like a big mosaic. The main challenge in fisheries is to maintain the industry viable and attract young people to continue the business. The FLAG also wants to preserve the rich cultural traditions developed within the industry. The FLAG’s basic idea is founded on the conviction that there is hope for the future within fisheries and that this hope can be channeled through commitment towards the local society and businesses. 

Population: 159 470                  Employment in fisheries: 310

Surface area/km²: 6 750         Coastal or inland: Coastal

Population Density/ Inhabitants/ km²: 24         Protected areas: Natura 2000 (187 800 ha)

Main focus of FLAG strategy

The programme emphasizes the importance of professional skill, commitment, entrepreneurial spirit and sustainable development. It aims at preserving and creating new jobs within fisheries by diversifying the business of fishery professionals and by supporting them through improved know-how, fishing culture and associated business. Another goal is to promote Ostrobothnia as a window towards Scandinavia in know-how and cultural exchange.  

Environmental Management (1-5, where 5 is high priority and 1 is low priority) : 5

Improving the competitiveness of the fisheries sector (1-5) : 5

Diversification into other activities (1-5) : 5

Project examples and ideas

- Developing fresh fish products from underexploited species. This project aims to attract consumers’ attention towards alternative fish species. The project will build up close cooperation between several actors, e.g. local fishermen and fish refineries in order to guarantee the supply of fish. It will also look at product development and the development of recipes of alternative fish species, as well as offering training for staff in institutional kitchens and for entrepreneurs within fisheries and fish processing businesses.

- Diversifying fisheries products: making use of fish skin to make leather. This project involves an awareness raising campaign around the possible uses of fish skin leather, including the production of handbags, lampshades and belts. It also offers training for fishermen, their families and other interested members of the community in tanning and the design and production of fish skin products.

-  Making winter fishing attractive and profitable again. The project will mainly develop net and fyke net fishing of whitefish, perch, northern pike, and burbot as well as seine-fishing of Baltic herring under the ice. It aims to ensure a supply of fresh fish to local consumers during the six winter months while improving the financial standing of individual fishermen and making their work less strenuous. The project will also build up networks between individual fishermen and regions.

- Theme day focusing on Seal-Free Zones. Swedish experts were invited to provide information about state-of-the-art technology and their results (e.g. a technique called “sälskrämmor” in Swedish, which involves noise systems that scare away seals). The theme day aimed to explore possibilities for establishing seal-free zones thanks to such technology so as to secure, for example, the spawning of the very important Malax Whitefish. 

Lead Partner/Responsible Legal Entity:  Aktion Österbotten LAG

Other key actors/organisations in the partnership : Ostrobothnian Fishermans Association, Ostrobothnian Fisheries Association, FOODIA (food cluster)  

Links with LEADER : The FLAG is administrated by the local LEADER LAG            

% of public actors : 25

% of fisheries actors : 50

% of other (non-fisheries) private / NGO sector actors : 20

% of environmental actors : 5

Number of individuals/organisations in partnership : 20

Number of individuals on main decision-making body : 11

Number of contracted staff in FLAG : 1.4


Total public funding 2007-2013 : € 941 180 (2008-2011)

EFF : € 344 000

Other public : € 597 180

Private : € 104 576

FLAG Manager: 
Mikael Nygard
Other contact: 
President: Tom Holtti
Aktion Österbotten, Handelsesplanaden 23 A, FIN-65100, Vasa, Finland
mikael.nygard ( at )
+358 50 308 1379
+358 6 317 5153
Languages spoken: 
Swedish, Finnish, English