Fisheries Areas Network

FLAG Factsheet

Highland & Moray FLAG --ARCHIVED as of 31 January 2020--

Official name: 
Highland & Moray FLAG
Programming period: 


--ARCHIVED as of 31 January 2020--
Previously operating as two separate FLAGs, Highland and Moray have formed a regional partnership to deliver the 2014-2020 programme. The Highland & Moray FLAG is the largest UK FLAG in operation covering 4,985km of coastline around some of the most sparsely populated and remote land in Europe.

There are seven main landing ports within the FLAG area, each supporting a diverse fishing and maritime industry.  Haddock, cod, saithe and monkfish dominate demersal landings at Scrabster and Kinlochbervie, while the small deep-water port of Lochinver is preferred by visiting foreign vessels landing their catch (including scabbard, grenadier, hake and blue ling) to be transported to the continent for market. The Highland & Moray demersal fleet is small in size however its socio-economic contribution to fishing communities is still significant even though the number of active vessels has remained in steady decline over the last decade.  To the west, Mallaig, Ullapool and Portree land are most known for shellfish including lobster, crab, langoustine and scallops. 

Of equal importance are the large number of small harbours and piers located throughout the coastline that support the inshore shellfish fleet and provide a vital source of jobs and income in low populated, fragile and remote communities.

The aquaculture industry is a major socio-economic contributor in coastal communities on the west coast (especially in very remote areas).  There is potential for increased production in the shellfish aquaculture sector and the FLAG aims to support projects/initiatives that enhance viability and add value to this sector.

The area has experienced a progressive decline in fisheries employment over the past decade - a number of communities in the area are in danger of long term decline and are further vulnerable due to their remoteness, an ageing population, lack of economic opportunity and lack of access to essential services. In response, ports are seeking to diversify activities through new investment and business opportunities in various marine based industries including renewable energy sector, oil and gas, cargo handling, leisure and tourism. 

Type of area:
Sea Basins:
Protected areas: 

Together Highland & Moray represent over 50% of the total Scottish land area conservation designations.  Those relating to the marine environment include the Moray Firth, the East Caithness Cliffs and the Lower River Spey and Spey Bay.

138 392
Surface area (km²)
15 316
Population density
Total employment in fisheries
1 620

FLAG strategy

The Highland & Moray Local Development Strategy has three main themes:

1. Stronger and more resilient fishing communities

  • To protect fishing communities from further decline by investing in infrastructure that will allow communities to respond positively to challenges and opportunities.
  • To build fisheries community capacity by supporting local development initiatives and co-operation between partners.

2. A sustained, growing and diversified marine, coastal and aquaculture economy

  • To strengthen local economies by providing support for new and existing businesses to target profitable and growing markets and stimulate job creation.
  • To add value to local fisheries and aquaculture products throughout the consumer supply chain. 
  • To give communities the opportunity to diversify with fisheries and explore other marine related incomes.

3. Improved understanding of marine environment and management of resources

  • To assist communities in reducing their carbon output through renewable energy schemes.
  • To promote initiatives that may conserve or enhance the marine environment keeping in mind long term sustainability. 
  • To reduce the environmental impact of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors through individual and co-operative action. 
Adding value, creating jobs, and promoting innovation along the fisheries chain
% of the budget allocated: 
Supporting diversification
Enhancing and capitalising on the environmental assets
Promoting social wellbeing and cultural heritage
Strengthening the role of fisheries communities in local development


Total public budget allocated to the FLAG for 2014-2020: 
1 292 427
  • Sources of co-funding: 

    National - Scottish Government

  • Funds: 

Project examples

  • Support for infrastructure improvements to benefit the fisheries sector (particularly projects which address the landing obligation) including community ownership of fisheries related assets/businesses
  • Support to enhance co-operation and innovative ideas from within the fisheries secto
  • Support for adding value to produce, marketing and promotion
  • Support for developing new skills and employment opportunities
  • Support for marine tourism
  • Support for local business initiatives tied to the marine environment
  • Support for marine environmental improvements and projects addressing climate change
  • Support for local research/management/education – (IFG plans/projects)

Calls for proposals

The FLAG will meet four times per year for project review and selection. Funding round deadlines and recent project approvals can be found on the FLAG website.

Expertise & cooperation

  • Adding value to underutilised and lower value species through processing and marketing
  • Mitigating the negative effects of the Common Fisheries Policy on small fishing communities


Members of the partnership: 

Private Sector actors in the FLAG include the Cullen Sailing School, the Three Harbours Association, the Federation of Small Businesses- Moray, the Buckie Business Association, the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers, the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, the Moray Firth Inshore Fisherman’s Association, the Moray Firth Partnership, the FOA27, the North & East Coast Inshore Fisheries Group and the West Coast Inshore Fisheries Group. While public sector members include Highlands & Island Enterprise, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Highland Council, Moray Council and Visit Scotland.

Number of individuals/organisations in partnership/general assembly: 
% of fisheries actors: 
% of public authorities and other: 
% of other (non-fisheries) private / NGO sector actors: 
% of environmental actors: 
Number of individuals on main decision-making body/board: 
% of public actors: 
Number of contracted staff in FLAG: 


FLAG Contacts

The Highland Council & Moray Council
FLAG Development Officer, Highland Council, Caithness House, Wick
KW1 4AB Caithness
United Kingdom
FLAG Manager:
Ms. Sarah Lamb
+44 1955 609560
  • English (Mother tongue)
Publication date: 
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