Lake Võrtsjärv is the second largest lake in the Baltic countries and the largest lake in Estonia. It is a shallow and turbid eutrophic lake with a mean depth of 2.8m and a maximum depth of 6m. The water level of the lake can change by about 1.4m annually which is the main factor influencing the ecology of the lake. The lake is covered with ice, on average, 130 days a year (from the end of November until mid-April) and there are several small islands the southern part of the lake. The reeds and spiked watermilfoil are expanding across the lake due to anthropogenic eutrophication (water pollution caused by excessive plant nutrients).
Total catches in the FLAG area have fallen in recent years which is a challenge. This is due, in large, to a decline in consumer demands for smaller bream. As a result, smaller fish (predominantly bream) are often returned to the lake. Seasonal fluctuations in the lakes water levels have a significant impact on fish stocks, presenting another key challenge to the area.
The Lake Võrtsjärv FLAG area is a proposed Natura 2000 Special Protection Area (SPA) and Special Area for Conservation (SAC). A total of 213 bird species have been recorded in Lake Võrtsjärv, among them, 138 have been found to breed in the area.
FLAG project examples and ideas include:
The promotion of innovative processing for fisheries products.
The FLAG hopes to promote the exchange of knowledge and experience at a national level, to support the initiation of cooperation, and to arrange training programmes for those interested. The activities of the network promote the exchange of information at local, national and EU levels.
Examples of recent projects include:
FLAG members include the territories municipalities, fishermen, entrepreneurs, fisheries companies, local NGOs and other private companies in the area.