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French FLAGs look to the future

France held its second annual Axis 4 event in St Raphaël on the 28th-30th September. The conference brought together FLAG managers and partners, members of the Managing Authority and Paying Agency, as well as stakeholders such as the National Fisheries Committee and the National Aquaculture Committee. The event included site visits to three of the local (Var) FLAG´s projects: a pesca-tourism project, a coastal trail project that uses new technologies to digitalize and promote coastal resources and the local Prud´homie (fishing organization) and Town Hall´s project to put in place a restricted fishing zone. These visits, as well as the material displayed by a number of the French FLAGs, offered some convincing evidence of the benefits that Axis 4 is starting to have in France. The rest of the event was dedicated to work shop and panel discussions on how to improve Axis 4 in the future. A number of key messages emerged, including the necessity to ensure a smooth transition to the next programming period, the need for budgets to be large enough to provide the necessary resources for animation and the importance of guaranteeing that the fishing community remained at the heart of Axis 4.