The Northern Kurzeme FLAG is located in northwest Latvia. The FLAG area is bordered by a 144 km stretch of the Baltic coast, from the parish of Jurkalne to the Cape of Kolka, and 12 km of the coastline around the Gulf of Riga. The area consists of 17 parishes, one town and one city, Ventspils, which is considered to be one of nine development centres of national significance* in Latvia. There are two important fishing ports – Roja and Ventspils.
The Northern Kurzeme FLAG area is characterized by a very large forest coverage - 65.3%, and very low population density - 5.8 persons per square kilometer, far below the average population density in Latvia. In 2014 the unemployment rate in the area was 7.2 %.
The area’s most important asset is the Baltic coast, noted for its natural beauty and its fishing potential.
The area also has a very rich cultural heritage, including religious architecture from the 16th-19th Century, Baltic German manor buildings, and Suiti (a small catholic community) and Liv (a Finno-Ugric ethnic group) traditions.
The coastal area has large beaches, which support many business activities, mostly in the tourism and fisheries sectors. The most popular holiday destinations are the Jūrkalne Steep coast and the Cape of Kolka. The Northern Kurzeme FLAG area is also characterised by its extensive forests, which cover about 71% of the area.
For a long time (about 50 years during the Soviet occupation), the entire coastal area was closed to the public because of its use for military exercises by the Soviet army, which seriously hampered its economic development by restricting access to the area. This negative impact on the local economy was reinforced by the military presence leaving behind discarded live ammunition, rocket silos, decaying infrastructure and pollution, as well as useless and mostly outdated fisheries infrastructure.
There are 30 such areas, the most important being: Slītere National Park, Raķupe Valley, Kaļķupe Valley, and Moricsala in Usma Lake.
Fishing and tourism are the most important industries in the Northern Kurzeme Partnership area. As identified in the participatory needs analysis of the area, coastal infrastructure needs upgrading and fishing and fishing-related tourism services also need to be strengthened. Infrastructure improvements are also necessary in order to enhance the quality of life of those working in fish processing.
The local development strategy includes the following objectives:
The FLAG will support coastal enterprises, helping to improve production processes, marketing, and to encourage new activities. A higher priority will be given to projects that develop an innovative product or service.
Support will also be provided for projects that help to overcome the effect of seasonality in the fisheries and tourism sectors.
Tourism is indeed one of the key industries in the area. The FLAG will support initiatives that contribute to the restoration and protection of the coastal environment and its possible integration into coastal recreational and tourism activities. There will be support for the development of public infrastructure aimed at maintaining and making good use of the sea and coastal heritage. For example, the creation of recreational and fishing-related infrastructure along the coast, such as the restoration of trestles and boat slips.
As regards sustainable growth, support will also be provided for improving the energy efficiency of fish processing facilities and for increasing the use of renewable energy, as well as for improving the management of wastewater and surface water drainage.
Finally, aiming to improve the social inclusion in the FLAG area a high priority will be given to projects that provide opportunities for disadvantaged groups.
EAFRD – 1 835 449.76 with 68% national co-financing.
The deadline for the first call for projects was 13 June 2016. This call included only two of four planned objectives.
A second call, focusing on the improvement of infrastructure related to cultural heritage and fishing traditions, was announced in July 2016.
At least two calls for each objective are foreseen before December 2018.
Type of cooperation projects foreseen:
The FLAG board (decision-making body) consists of 12 members, but all 56 members of the FLAG are actively involved.
Together they represent 4 municipalities, 6 fishermen’s organisations, 14 businesses, 23 NGOs and 9 private individuals.