The region of Western Macedonia accounts for 60% of Greece’s total freshwater reservoirs. This makes the area a rich and diverse source of assets for the fishing and aquaculture industry. However, the integration and cultivation of these assets into the local economy has been under-exploited. Despite earlier efforts to develop small-scale fishing activities in the local areas of Western Macedonia, a lack of continued investment and socio-political factors have impeded their development. The area of Western Macedonia is landlocked and rather remote. Therefore, it has the typical characteristics of rural regions, such as high unemployment rates, and the migration of the population to urban centres amongst other factors.
The FLAG intends to respond to these issues by developing and cultivating the aquaculture and fishing industry in Western Macedonia. The FLAG aims to promote fisheries and aquaculture in a discrete area surrounding the artificial lakes of Polyfitos and Ilarionas, located in the mountainous inlands of the counties of Kozani and Grevena. These lakes host several freshwater species (crayfish, catfish and carp among others), which can contribute to stimulate local economic activity and entrepreneurship through investment in aquaculture and fish processing plants aimed at local and foreign food markets.
In parallel, the FLAG aims also to support the environmental upgrades and the ecological sustainability of the area by promoting alternative tourism such as ecotourism. Responsible travels to the natural areas surrounding the artificial lakes conserving the environment and improving the well-being of the local people.
The group receives funding from both the EMFF and EAFRD funds.
Project ideas include the following:
Despite the long experience in LEADER programmes, the FLAG is new to the fishery sector and the organisation itself has no experience in this specific field. Therefore, the FLAG is interested in cooperation with more experienced FLAGs.
To this end, the FLAG is becoming a full member of the upcoming transnational project “Processing and marketing of fishery products” in cooperation with several Greek and Italian FLAGs.
The membership of the FLAG includes the region of Western Macedonia and its regional development fund and regional association of municipalities, the fishermen's club of lake Polyphytos, four agricultural co-operatives, the local chamber of commerce and the regional development association.