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FLAG factsheet - United Kingdom - Hastings

Offical name: 
United Kingdom
South East
East Sussex
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Description of the area and its main challenges

This FLAG area is unique as it covers the whole Borough of Hastings, the second most deprived seaside town in the UK but focuses on the fishing community based on the Stade, the working fishing beach and home to the largest under 10m shingle beach based fleet in the UK.

In recent times severe quota restrictions on cod in area VIId of the Eastern English Channel have put the fleet under extreme pressure as individual fishermen’s earnings have slumped and throughput in the market of locally caught fish has been reduced. A long history of sustainable and responsible fishing has been compromised by the pressures to discard quota species at certain times.

The Old Town has retained its rich architectural heritage and the Stade has undergone a major physical transformation in recent times with the construction of the Jerwood Gallery, the conversion of the car and lorry park into a high quality public amenity and the building of a new café, public toilets and community facilities in Stade Hall and the Classroom on the Coast, these new features complement the unique combination of marine focused educational and recreational attractions including the Bluereef Aquarium, The Shipwreck Museum, and the Fishermen’s Museum. However, like many coastal towns the area relies heavily on attracting old and new destination visitors and a significant aim of the Hasting FLAG is to enhance the tourist appeal of the area.

Population: 90 254                                                                Employment in fisheries: 99, including 31 boat owners and/or skippers and 34 crew members.

Surface area/km²: 30.79                                                          Coastal or inland: Coastal

Population Density/ Inhabitants/ km²: 2 931                          Protected areas: The total area of protected open space in the Borough of Hastings is 11.52SqKm (This is an amalgamated area of Ancient Woodland, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Combe Valley Countryside Park, Country Park, Historic Parks & Gardens, Local Nature Reserves, Local Wildlife Sites, Open Spaces, Special Area of Conservation (SAC), sports pitches & playing fields, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and woodland as protected under the Planning Strategy.


Main focus of FLAG strategy

- To develop the concept of ‘Boat to Plate’ through: rebuilding a thriving local market for local fish; reconnecting communities with the fishing fleet and all it has to offer; converting visitors into informed consumers; raising awareness of the sustainability, quality and diversity of the local catch through education; improved marketing and branding of all Hastings fish including those with MSC certification.
- To Build Resilience of the fishing industry through: addressing the ageing workforce of fishermen; replacing aging and failing equipment; upgrading diverse infrastructure to sustain the fishing fleet and first sale landed fish; and create more access to industry training for existing fishermen plus apprenticeships and mentoring for new recruits.
- Strengthening Stade Tourism through: capitalizing on the high visitor footfall on the Stade to benefit the fishermen and fishing industry; linking cultural activities on Stade Open Space with fishing through maritime themed programming; improved marketing of eco and food tourist value of Stade to visitors; build on the success of Herring Fairs with stronger involvement of fishermen and promotion of local fish
- Strengthening the Fishing Community and organizations and the FLAG through: working with women in the industry and connected with fishermen; capacity building for representation and governance of fishing organizations; wider understanding of impact of policy issues on fishing industry.

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

Improving the competitiveness of the fisheries sector (1-5): 4

Diversification into other activities (1-5): 2

Developing local seafood & eco-tourism (1-5): 5

Project examples and ideas

- Classroom on the Coast: share the knowledge and skills of fishermen, fishmongers, chefs, ecologists, marine organisations and educators to teach school children, chefs, fishmongers, new entrants to fishing, restaurateurs, families and the general public about every aspect of fish, from their habitats and the benefits of sustainable fishing methods to how to cook fish at home

- Fish fairs and fish promotion: building on the successes of the previous Herring Fairs – the FLAG in partnership with HBC is looking to extend these fish events to regular June and November fairs, focusing on locally sourced MSC fish – Herring, Dover Sole and the perennial favourite, mackerel.

- Fishing Beach Improvements: this project will sees the upgrade to the Winch road through resurfacing and improved lighting to this important link from the fishing beach to the fish market, the replacement of the fleets fuel tanks, and the upgrade to the fishermen’s winch sheds.

- Eco-Stade: combines low impact-tourism – camping, walking, cycling with fish buying and cooking and introduces a host of new amenities to the Stade area of the old town to enhance the destination visitor experience.

- The Sea Around Us: a project that involved young people in getting to know more about fish, cooking and the fishing fleet. The video can be seen at the following link:

- Art on the Stade: this project captured the essence of the fishermen and the fishing beach through painting and photography, and also exhibited in the UK Houses of Parliament in January 2014.

- Net-flakers: until the net flakers were funded under the FLAG programme many of the Hastings fishermen had to manually recover and fold up to three miles of fishnets! They now have something that will really improve their working conditions.

- Fishing Pathways: helps young people to learn about working with and in the Hastings Fishing industry. They are developing and piloting six week courses combining classroom-based learning delivered by fishermen and Stade-based employers with connected work experience on the fishing beach and wider Stade area for 24 young people.


Lead partner or Responsible Legal Entity: Hastings Borough Council

Other key actors/organisations in the partnership:

Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society
Hastings Voluntary Action
New Horizons Educational Trust
Old Hastings Preservation Society
Hastings Borough Council
East Hastings Sea Angling Association
Sussex - Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority
Educations Futures Trust
Webbes Cookery School
RNLI Hastings Life Boat
Port Representative
Hastings Fish CIC
Sussex Coast College-Hastings
New Under Tens Fishermen’s Association
(Marine Coastguard) Auxiliary Coastguard
Hastings Fish Market Enterprise
Ore Valley Forum
Old Town Residents Association
University of Brighton
Natural England
Hastings Academy
East Sussex County Council (Environment)
Marine Management Organisation (MMO)

% of public actors (on the decision-making board): 33

% of fisheries actors: 33

% of other (non-fisheries) private / NGO sector actors: 22

% of environmental actors: 11

Number of individuals/organisations in partnership: 33

Number of individuals on main decision-making body: 27

Number of contracted staff in FLAG: 2


Total public budget of FLAG 2007-2013:                                      €1 210 069.83 (£1,004,000)

EFF:                                                                                               €   580 327.32 (£   481,500)

Other public (national/provincial):                                                €   630 254.04 (£   522,500- £481,000 national £41,000 provincial)

FLAG Manager: 
Joy Collins
Other contact: 
President: Cllr Peter Chowney
Hastings Borough Council, Aquila House, Breeds Place, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 3UY, England
hastingsflag (at)
+44 1424 451851
Languages spoken: 
English, French