Gotland is a vibrant rural region with belief in the future and a strong brand recognised nationally as well as internationally for high quality and untouched nature. However, its natural and cultural resources can be used in a better way to further strengthen economic growth. Gotland is also Sweden's largest producer of crayfish.
One challenge is to create sustainable growth based on three pillars: social inclusion, business, and environment. Another challenge is the decline of commercial fishing; as a result, the fishermen have grown older, and it is difficult to recruit the younger generation. Profitability is weak in coastal fisheries and the availability of commercial fish species is low. As a result of the reduced commercial fisheries, all the logistics of fish for consumption have disappeared.
About 8.2% of the total area is protected. There are national parks and reserve habitat protection areas and about 135 Natura 2000 areas. North of Gotland there is the Salvorev-Kopparstenarna marine reserve of 62 000 hectares.
To meet the challenges identified in the strategy, the partnership has concluded that the fishing industry should be viewed as a whole, from sea to table, including fishing tourism and sport fishing. The strategy focuses on increasing profitability of fisheries while maintaining environmental measures and water conservation efforts.
The FLAG will give priority to projects that promote the restructuring and adaptation of declining commercial fishing and to sustainable and resource efficient aquaculture and fishing.
Projects can be presented and selected on an ongoing basis.
The FLAG envisages that some cooperation projects could focus on studies concerning aquaculture. Other projects may deal with fishing techniques, marketing (local fish) and sustainable fishing (environmental monitoring systems for coastal fishing of flounder).
The Gotland FLAG has a single multi-funded strategy financed from EAFRD, ESF, EMFF and ERDF. There is a single board, within which there are fishing and aquaculture competences. If needed, external expertise is consulted to evaluate projects. The EMFF goals are fully integrated in the strategy.
The FLAG has members from the public, business and the NGO sector. The public sector is represented by the municipality of Gotland, county administration and the church; the business sector is represented by several local companies, trade unions, farmers and business associations. Most of the FLAG members come from the NGO sector which includes the organisation of fishermen as well as many NGOs dealing with education, sports and recreation..