Two FLAGs and two LAGs from Finland and Estonia signed a cooperation agreement to promote youth exchanges around fisheries cultural heritage in order to revitalise the traditional links between Estonian coastal villages and Finnish coastal areas.
Commerce, including fisheries trade, between the coastal populations along the northern coast of Estonia and the southern coast of Finland are believed to date as far back as the Middle Ages when such exchanges were known as 'friendly barter’. Instead of exchanging goods like in the old times, the Esko FLAG (FI) and Viruuma FLAG (EE) joined forces to foster exchanges of ideas and knowledge through a cooperation project led by the Sepra Leader LAG (FI).
The cooperation project focused on two main objectives: bringing young people closer to fisheries and the maritime sector and creating synergies between the two regions by promoting common entrepreneurship initiatives amongst the young. The activities organised for children aged 7-16 involved youth camps, thematic weekend workshops and one-day events. Focusing on themes like fisheries tourism, maritime trade and cultural exchanges, participants were able to attend projects visits, fish cooking events and entrepreneurship initiatives supported by the LAGs and FLAGs.
The youth camps were organised in both countries, every FLAG and LAG being responsible for the activities developed in their own area. These youth camps were designed to teach kids and young people about outdoor survival, how to fish and looking after the environment.
The first camp took place in the Finnish LAG area and the programme included sailing classes, navigation, exercises on reading sea charts and first aid training. The second youth camp was in the Estonian FLAG area, focusing on Baltic Sea fisheries, including small-scale fishing in the area, local fish species, different fishing gear used and fish recipes. The third camp was organised by the neighbouring Estonian LAG, offering themes related to the environment.
Three youth camps were organised, attended by more than 75 children from the two countries. Several workshops, thematic weekends and events were also developed to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset among youngsters, with more than 2 000 participants. However, fostering entrepreneurship among young people and cooperation among two neighbouring territories is a long-term activity and it is still early to know the real impact this project will have. However, the project has already been effective at mobilising young people from the two regions, revitalising long-standing cultural exchanges. A series of further activities are foreseen in the coming years.
This type of project can be replicated in all sorts of LAG or FLAG areas where the young can benefit from exchanges with neighbouring areas that share certain traditions and a common history. Exchanges with different areas can also bring benefits, though it is often easier to establish shared objectives when the areas have more in common. The lead partner should have the adequate resources to be able to coordinate and oversee the implementation of the project.
Lessons & contribution to CLLD objectives: