Visit the new FARNET 2014-2020 website

FLAG factsheet - Belgium - West Flanders

Offical name: 
Plaatselijke Groep Belgisch Zeevisserijgebied
West Vlaanderen
Belgian coast
Click to enlarge
Description of the area and its main challenges

Due to various scrapping schemes and quota reductions, the fisheries sector in Belgium has been reduced to the minimum necessary to maintain a viable industry (90 vessels). The fishery itself is characterised as a mixed, which means that fishing techniques have to be adapted to different species and different fishing grounds. The transition to more sustainable fishing practices is a real challenge for the remaining vessels.

Although the sector is very small, three different sub-sectors can be distinguished: coastal fisheries, small fleet, and large scale fleet. Each sub-sector is faced with different kinds of problems, which calls for different types of responses. Belgian landings represent only 10% of fisheries products consumed in Belgium, leaving the remaining 90% to be met by imports. There exists, therefore, considerable potential for discovering and developing local markets.

Population: 218 599 inhabitants                              Employment in fisheries: 125 full-time, 210 part-time, 198 occasional                  (Flemish Government, 2010). The number of people working in the processing industry is estimated at 1 250.

Surface area/km²: 368 km²                                   Coastal or inland: coastal

Population Density/ Inhabitants/ km²: 594          Protected areas: Natura 2000

Main focus of FLAG strategy

The main focus of the FLAG strategy is to add value to local fisheries products and increase local consumption. It will also

support diversification, innovation, the involvement of women and efforts to promote the sustainable management of the marine environment.

Environmental Management (1-5, where 5 is high priority and 1 is low priority): 3

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

Diversification into other activities (1-5): 3

Project examples and ideas

- Valduvis: the characteristics of the fleet (small size and a mixed fishery) make it difficult to enter into an MSC type of labeling scheme. This project will therefore develop a scoring system to show the different characteristics (social, economic and environmental) .of the fisheries products.

- Fish2know: promoting local species through an initiative that brings together catering students, fishermen and local enterprises to raise awareness of and promote local and sustainable sourcing.

- Cool! Ik voel!: an interactive aquarium located in a national fisheries museum, where fishermen will be trained to take part in workshops to share their knowledge with children.

- Northseachefs and fishermen: creating a market for under-valued fish through a collaboration between local chefs and fishermen.

- Taskforce towards sustainable fisheries: a cooperation between government, producer organisation and environmental organisations to foster the transition to sustainable fisheries.

- Langoustine-project: re-introducing the traditional langoustine fisheries and investigating potential markets.



Lead partner or Responsible Legal Entity: The Province of West Flanders

Other key actors/organisations in the partnership: local communities, auctions, fisheries sector,…

Links with LEADER: There is a small overlap between the FLAG and a LAG area. The FLAG is based on municipality boundaries while the LAG is defined on sub-municipality boundaries. Coordination between the FLAG and the LAG is facilitated by regular contact at the level of the secretaries of the groups, which are pre-financed in both cases by the Province of West Flanders.

% of public actors (on the decision-making board): 30%

% of fisheries actors: 60%

% of other (non-fisheries) private / NGO sector actors: 0

% of environmental actors: 10%

Number of individuals/organisations in partnership: 36

Number of individuals on main decision-making body: 27

Number of contracted staff in FLAG: 1


Total public budget of FLAG 2007-2013:            € 4 428 410.00

EFF:                                                                     € 1 900 000.00  (37%)

Other public (national/ regional/ provincial):  € 2 528 410.00  (49%)

Private:                                                               €    703 335.71  (14%)

FLAG Manager: 
Stephanie Maes
Other contact: 
President: Bart Naeyaert
Provincie West-Vlaanderen - Dienst EEG Provinciaal Ankerpunt Kust Wandelaarskaai 7 (pakhuis 61) - B 8400 Oostende, Belgium
stephanie.maes (at)
+32 (0)59 34 01 87
+32 (0)59 34 21 31
Languages spoken: 
Dutch, English, French, Spanish