The coast of Läänemaa is sparsely populated, has a low relief and a coastline that is split sharply. There are 237 islands (with islets and reefs). The most productive fish species here are perch, pike, Baltic herring, flounder and garfish. Fishing has traditionally been mostly small-scale but in recent years has benefited from the expansion of several ports in the area. Läänemaa fishermen earn their income from fishing from May to September. During the last few years, as the fish stock situation has improved, the active catching period was extended to October. During 2007-2013, the FLAG worked on improving infrastructure in landing areas for small-scale fishermen and started involving the fishing communities in a multi-functional development of the area.
The specific challenges are related to lack of qualified labour in fish processing and little cooperation from fishermen in marketing of local products. The seasonality of the fisheries activities is another key issue for the fishermen in the area. The area has some tourism potential, and links with fisheries can be further developed.
Sixteen protected areas which form 32% of the county’s area are covered by some form of protection. The biggest nature reserve is Matsalu National Park (50 000 ha). Approximately half of the area of the national park is covered with water.
The FLAG strategy focuses on the following objectives:
The FLAG has been active in developing harbours and landing sites in close cooperation with local municipalities. The FLAG has extensive experience in bringing the needs of fishermen to the table of the local municipality and vice versa. The association has good experience in managing processes to develop ports and landing sites that are multifunctional and keep in mind interests of fishermen, the local community and non-sectoral entrepreneurs.
The association has good experience in developing advisory services for local community members including fishermen, especially in drafting projects.
The FLAG is willing to share experiences on developing cooperative activities (primarily within the country).
The key partners of the FLAG include seven local municipalities; ten fisheries private companies and four non-fisheries private companies; four fisheries NGOs and five non-fisheries NGOs; 21 private persons involved in fisheries; 41 fishermen as private person entrepreneurs.