Fisheries Areas Network


COVID-19 – FLAG Response Message Board

Keeping you up to date on efforts and actions carried out by FLAGs, National Networks and Managing Authorities to support the fisheries and aquaculture sector in EU Member States overcome the challenges presented by the coronavirus, COVID-19. Be sure to check this rolling coverage regularly to get inspiration for actions in your areas. Please contact the FARNET Support Unit with any initiatives you are supporting related to COVID-19




Virtual Animation: Keeping the FLAG locally notorious, La Safor, Spain


Due to the COVID-19 restrictions limiting physical contact and encouraging people to stay at home, FLAGs are finding it harder to reach their communities at ground level. Animating the area is an essential part of a FLAG’s role. Achieving this without being physically present in the different parts of the area is a challenge.

That’s why La Safor FLAG has carried out a local communication initiative, to develop three videos for different local stakeholders’ websites and social media channels. One of these videos explains the FLAG’s composition, opportunities, and goals. The other two videos showcase projects financed by the FLAG that help to preserve cultural heritage; improve traceability; and test new sustainable restaurant businesses, based on exclusive use of local products. The videos have been funded by the Valencia Provincial Council (Diputación de Valencia).

For more information, check out the videos:

FLAG´s description: https://youtu.be/cT-Jb-3f6M8

Social House El Palmar: https://youtu.be/kwfzeJe8aL8

La Llotja Restaurant: https://youtu.be/d9Q5Lke3tHI


A regional campaign to highlight the value of local products in Murcia, Spain


After the economic slow-down due to COVID-19, the regional government of Murcia recognised the need to boost the consumption of quality local products by promoting the products to the general public.  Thus, from October 2020 to March 2021, the region has been organising a public awareness campaign, including the “Seafood” initiative, which aims to add value to Murcia’s fishery products. This campaign will focus on building a quality brand to identify the local products that encompass good quality and sustainability standards, typical of the area.

The Murcia FLAG has played an essential role as animator of the area, connecting the fishing sector, restaurants and points of sale of fish products and the Regional administration. To promote local seafood and its high nutritional value, an event was organised on the 16th of October in collaboration with the Fisher´s Associations of the region, and with the participation of the FLAG. Achievements included the creation of a visual identity, a website, social media dissemination and a media campaign launched with promotional videos of the fisheries and aquaculture sector. Street markets with celebrity chefs were also organised and activities in the fishmongers and restaurants of the area. And, to increase knowledge and consumption of local seafood, Murcia’s four fishing guilds were involved in the organisation of a raffle for four Christmas baskets to be delivered to the winners of a competition on knowledge of typical fishery products from the region.


Implementing security protocols for restaurants and fish auctions in Galicia, Spain


The Costa Sostible FLAG financed a project which establishes a security protocol in 17 restaurants and five fish auctions in the area. The project focuses on providing clarity on the source of the seafood sold via guarantee called the ‘Km0 Mar Galicia seal‘ of approval. The protocol also aims to prevent the spread of contagions and raise awareness in local hygiene matters, responding to the concern of consumers about the COVID-19 situation in frequented places. Establishments have been organised to run tailored risk assessments, while action plans including sanitary measures have been enforced as well as the creation and delivery of personal protective equipment and posters identifying ‘safe-points’. Promoting these measures, a video has been produced identifying the seafood supply chain from the net to the plate.


Keeping island communities connected using social media


The Småøerne FLAG covers 11 islands scattered throughout the seas around Denmark. To maintain communication between the islands during the COVID-19 crisis, the FLAG has set up a Facebook group so business owners can network and stay connected during the crisis. The group also enables business owners to communicate and stay informed about national aid packages. Besides using social networking websites to stay connected, the FLAG arranged a series of board meetings via Teams and Zoom.


FLAG provides PPE for fisheries workers


The Basque FLAG is supporting the local fishing organisation (cofradía) by supplying them with personal protective equipment (PPE), against a fee. They supply includes thermometers and communication materials on the transmission of the virus, which are distributed among the fishing fleet. The FLAG is also considering advancing grants for selected projects with the support of the non-profit organisation Reciprocal Guarantee Society and has supported the submission of two projects for the next call. The first project aims to finance the purchase of PPE and the second one aims to implement its own COVID-19 protocols such as maintaining safe social distancing and limiting the number of vessels allowed in the port to six at a time. Such measures will ensure that contact between workers and fish market clients in the port is kept to a minimum.


North Sardinia FLAG encourages local food systems


In North Sardinia, Italy, the fisheries sector has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.  Sardinia is reliant on imports, with 80% of products consumed coming from outside the region. To fill this gap in the market, the North Sardinia FLAG is encouraging the development of local food systems through methods such as home delivery or dedicated spaces in the fish market. The FLAG has published an action plan aiming to increase local consumption through the reorganisation of the supply chain, strengthening direct to consumer sales and stabilising product prices. This includes a consumer awareness campaign promoting the consumption of locally caught seafood, connecting local producers, sellers, and consumers and encouraging local sales outlets. Alongside the campaign the FLAG is also prioritising projects related to business support and combatting the crisis, and has proposed a set of measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic such as bringing forward projects payment and issuing fuel vouchers.


New application for direct to consumer sales in Italy


The Gargano FLAG has supported the development of the Pesca Mia app, which connects fishers with local restaurants and consumers and allows for direct sales. Pesca Mia allows fishers to log their catch. Restaurants and individuals can then place an order directly, collecting the catch in person at the quay after landing. The app is promoted on social media and the local press. The app also has long-term potential and will ultimately be used as a tourism initiative, also offering local recipes from fishers, promoting local practices and cultural heritage.


Swedish MA encourages hospitals and schools to procure more local fish


We recently reported that the Swedish MA was trying to increase the public procurement of locally caught fish to alleviate import demands during the pandemic. Within 24 hours of the initiative being launched, two municipalities have begun procuring fish from local producers, shorten their public procurement supply chains. The Swedish MA hopes this number will grow in the coming weeks.                


Greek FLAGs extend project selection deadlines


To mitigate the impact of the pandemic, Greek FLAGs are using teleconferencing tools to maintain project calls and project selection processes. To alleviate pressure on both the FLAG and project promoters, several FLAGs (Pilion, Thessaloniki, Kavala, Dodecanesa and Aitoliki) have extended submission deadlines. By pushing back and extending the project selection process, the FLAGs hope to encourage project proposal linked to mitigating the new challenges posed by the pandemic.


Promoting local seafood through video testimonials on social media


The Venetian FLAG has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by launching an awareness campaign on Facebook promoting the consumption of local seafood through video testimonials with local fishers. To support these fishers and other local businesses, the FLAG is also promoting direct sales by indicating when local producers will be active and where they are making deliveries. Consumers are able to follow the initiative using Facebook hashtag #IoMangioItaliano. The campaign aligns with a national initiative focused on promoting and consuming locally produced food. To organise the campaign the FLAG board met remotely. During these meetings, the FLAG also approved eight new projects despite the lockdown and opened five new calls for projects related to the key challenges identified for the area. Elsewhere in Italy, the North Sardinia FLAG has developed a similar campaign promoting local seafood on Facebook, using hashtag #sosteniamolavenditadiretta.


Coastal plant farmer diversifies into producing hand sanitiser


As in many regions during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage of hand sanitising gel in the Oeste area in Portugal. A project funded by the Oeste FLAG, which originally cultivates coastal plants in order to harvest essential oils, diversified its activity by producing hand sanitiser using the existing extraction facilities. Local farmers have provided the facility with pumpkins, which are fermented to produce the alcohol required for the sanitiser. Through this cooperation, the farm has been able to produce 50 litres of hand sanitiser per week during the crisis, while maintaining its coastal plant farming and essential oil production.


Spanish FLAG begins to develop its post-pandemic strategy


The Costa Brava FLAG has initiated a series of remote meetings to begin discussions on how to adapt its strategy after the pandemic (a short video on the initiative can be found here). The objective of the virtual meetings is to bring together ideas and solutions to the new challenges posed to the area as a result of the pandemic. The FLAG also aims to increase the visibility of both the FLAG and the area’s fishing sector by publishing online a series of interviews with key stakeholders for the territory over the coming weeks. Furthermore, through the virtual meetings, the FLAG intends to move forward with its project selection process to avoid a backlog and future delays.


Direct to consumer sales increase through German online portal
The Fisch vom Kutter online portal, which connects consumers with local fishermen, is a long-running Baltic Sea Coast FLAG project which has influenced many similar initiatives across the network. During the COVID-19 crisis, an increase in activity and visits to the portal has highlighted its importance to the area. Fishers who would previously only market a small percentage of their fish directly, are now turning to the portal to sell their entire catch to meet increased demand. Alongside the project’s usual delivery sites, Fisch vom Kutter has also introduced a mobile truck which will deliver fish directly while open-air markets are closed.   


Swedish MA encourages hospitals and schools to procure more local fish
Seafood in Sweden is predominantly an import market and due to the COVID-19 situation imports of fresh fish have stalled or been restricted. To combat the situation, the Swedish MA is trying to increase the procurement of locally caught fish by hospitals and schools. Not only will this give local fishermen a vital outlet for their catch during the crisis, but it will also alleviate a demand on the import market.


Gran Canaria FLAG develops local delivery network through WhatsApp
During the lockdown, many consumers on the island are unable to access their usual sources of seafood. As a solution, Gran Canaria FLAG (ES) has created a WhatsApp group connecting producers and consumers. The group allows consumers to order fresh fish, and fishers to deliver orders at specific collections sites. The FLAG is also in the process of developing a more permanent digital platform the group can migrate to when complete.  


French FLAGs moving administration online
The two FLAGs in Normandy (West Normandy FLAG and Fécamp FLAG) are keeping the CLLD process moving by taking their projects approval process online. Documents and signatures can now be sent digitally allowing the FLAG to continue its project selection process. The FLAGs' project selection committees will be conducted online, either using video conferencing systems or over email. Even though new projects are unlikely to start until after the COVID-19 crisis, putting in place the necessary administrative steps now, allows for a speedy start after the lockdown. 


Spanish FLAGs promote the consumption of local seafood through the media 
Across much of Spain, economic activity has been suspended in the area, putting small-scale fishers at risk. Several FLAGs are running awareness campaigns in the media, highlighting the impact the crisis is having on local fishers, encouraging the consumption of locally caught seafood. La Safor FLAG is running a radio campaign that uses famous personalities to promote the consumption of local fish through social media and videos shared via WhatsApp.  


Contactless buying and selling of fresh fish in Slovenia
Posavje FLAG has an innovative system for allowing consumers to buy fresh seafood without having to come into contact with other people. In the town of Krško's market, a vending machine system, originally put in place to allow for 24/7 access to fresh fish, enables consumers to buy variety of seafood products during the crisis, while maintaining social distance. 


Finnish fisheries processor teams up with local restaurant in takeaway service
A fisheries processor is working with a local restaurant in the Central Finland FLAG area to offer a takeaway service to local residents. The collaboration maintains a fisheries supply chain during the crisis, allowing local fishers to sell their catch to the processor, who then provides the restaurant with the fish required for its takeaway service. 


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