Hiiumaa is a beautiful un-spoilt island in the Baltic sea to the west of Estonia which can be reached in about 90 minutes by ferry from the mainland. The FLAG area consists of Hiiumaa island and a number of small islets surrounding it which together form the county of Hiiu. This county is divided into five municipalities, of which four are part of the FLAG. About 22% of the land is a natural park. The sea also has an important environmental value because of the presence of spawn areas. The fishery here is a small-scale coastal fishery using mostly passive fishing gear. The main species caught include perch, flounder, garfish, ide and Baltic herring. Catches are mostly marketed on the island itself. Small-scale coastal fishing is important for the island´s identity and for attracting tourists.
The main challenge is overcoming the difficulties that arise due to the area´s peripheral location and finding markets for the products made on the island while recognising its environment as an asset in itself and consolidating the area as a tourism destination.
Other challenges include a declining population, the seasonality of the fishing sector and outdated infrastructure on landing sites.
43 protected areas (231.2 square km of land area and 720.5 square km of water area) including the nature reserves of Tahkunam, Leigri and Pihla-kaibaldi. 22.4% of land areas in the intervention area are protected.
The FLAG strategy seeks to focus on creatinf jobs in the fisheries sector through diversification and addding value to fisheries products. It is also hoped to improve working conditions through renovating fishing harbours and landing sites, and improving marine safety. The area has some environmental issues concerning spawning areas and it is hoped to work on this by improving the mouths of rivers. The island has many strong fishing traditions and events related to them, which serve as tourist attractions that the stategy seeks to maintain and expand.
There will be calls annually in February/March and additional call in October if there is funding remaining after the Spring call.