The FLAG’s territory extends along the west coast and in the inland part of the Istrian peninsula. As the FLAG area includes some of the most popular tourist destinations of the Upper Adriatic, tourism is the most important economic activity, relying on highly developed hotel and private sector capacities. Fishing activity is closely linked to the tourist season, contributing to the quality of the gastronomic offer of the region.
Main potentials of the FLAG area are good geographic position close to Slovenia, Italy and other EU countries, rich tradition and preserved environment, suitable for a complementary development in cooperation with tourism as the driving force. There are several sites protected for their historical, cultural and /or environmental value including submarine and subterranean sites.
Fisheries in the FLAG area are mainly of local importance being the source of income for fishermen families. The total number of registered fishing boats is 164, most of them less than 12 m long (79%). Characteristic fish species are small pelagic fish (sardines), shellfish, cuttlefish and sole. Aquaculture is well developed in two locations.
Two fishermen’s cooperatives are active in the FLAG area. The Istria cooperative is the concession holder of two fishing ports, manages the fish market in Poreč, collects and sells the members’ catch and possesses a plant for fish and other seafood processing. However, almost all the catch is exported to Italy where several purchasers dictate the prices, so the market is not functioning.
The need to encourage consumption of local, seasonal fisheries and aquaculture products has been recognised as the main development need. Despite its quality and availability, the level of seafood consumption is low in the FLAG area as well as on the county and country level. The conflict between fishermen who use different fishing gears is often emphasized. There were examples of conflict between tourism and the fishing sector, where tourism has been suppressing the development of fisheries.
Promotion and demand for fish on the domestic market should be upgraded to reduce dependence on a few purchasers and achieve better prices as well as terms and conditions for local fishermen. The participation of fishermen and other relevant stakeholders from the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the process of decision-making and policy-making at a local, regional and national level is not satisfactory.
The FLAG territory has several areas protected under the NATURA 2000 Network. This includes fourteen protected areas situated all over the FLAG area for significant species and types of habitats. The water area of western Istria is protected under the bird directive; it stretches along the entire FLAG coast.
The general objective of the strategy is a sustainable and efficient fisheries sector and an increase in the quality of life within the FLAG fisheries community by the end of 2020.
Specifically, the strategy aims to increase of competitiveness of the fisheries sector in line with the modern market conditions by means of diversification and strengthening of the fisheries community capacities and effective resource management and preservation of the natural and cultural heritage aimed at the sustainable preservation of the fisheries community.
Project ideas include:
FLAG launches the calls for projects periodically on its website
This is a new FLAG and has little experience in co-operation. However, the FLAG is interested in transnational cooperation projects in Europe related to the development of new markets for high-quality sea products, the establishment of good complementary relations with tourist capacities and upgrading contribution of NATURA areas and cultural resources to the general well-being. It is also interested in raising public awareness on issues related to environmental protection.
Members of the FLAG include seven local self-government units from the public sector, the Istria and Punta Zub Fishermen’s Cooperatives, a craftsmen association, representatives from the fisheries sector and several transport operators.