The FLAG North-West area is found along the coasts of counties Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim and comprises the 69 local electoral areas extending 10km from the coastline.
This is a sparsely populated area with a population of 71 675 people and just twelve settlements of more than 1 500 inhabitants.
Fishing and tourism are prominent within the coastal towns. There are 219 licenced registered fishing vessels in the area and 60% of these are day boats under eight metres in length. Brown crab, shrimp and lobster are the main target species for processing in the area and 75% of this catch is exported to mainland Europe and Asia.
The aquaculture industry here consists mainly of oysters grown on trestles and mussels grown on lines with some scallop, razor, and periwinkle fishing. Salmon farming is also found in Clew Bay and on Clare Island.
Challenges here include creating and maintaining job opportunities, dealing with an ageing population, and maintaining the numbers of people involved in fisheries at their current level.
The strategic priorities of the FLAG include:
The FLAG's full strategy can be found here.
In terms of infrastructure, several pontoons and jetties have been developed. As for tourism, the FLAG has been involved in the creation of signage and information products for tourists. In terms of marketing the group has helped several fishermen set up market stalls at local markets.
At least one call for projects is envisaged every year, opening in February and closing in March. Additional calls may take place when the budget remains unspent. More information can be found at www.bim.ie/schemes.
The FLAG has experience in seafood promotion, coastal tourism and capacity building. They are interested in marine tourism in Achill, Sligo, Westport and Erris and seafood promotion across the region as well as nationally and sharing this experience when it is useful.
Within the North-West FLAG area there are three LEADER companies who were asked to nominate one LEADER person each to the board of the FLAG. A memorandum of understanding will be drawn up between FLAG and the LEADER companies. There are five board members who are representatives of CLLD which have been nominated from geographical coastal regions. All LEADER companies plus all CLLD groups were invited to attend public consultation meetings and asked to make submissions to the FLAG’s Local Development Strategy.
FLAG members include an oyster co-operative, a fishermen’s co-operative, the Island Communities Organisation (ICO), several private fishermen and Údarás na Gaeltachta (the regional authority for the Irish speaking community). The FLAG has six representatives from the fisheries sector and one representative from the aquaculture sector.