The FLAG West area comprises the coastal zones of counties Galway and Clare and has a considerable seafood industry, with over 450 registered boats, and over 350 fishermen. Targeted species include lobster, crab, crayfish, shrimp, scallops and oysters.
The FLAG also has the highest number of vessel ownership in Ireland with 4,2 owners per 1 000 inhabitants at present emphasising the importance of fishing and aquaculture to the FLAG West region.
Tourism is also important here as there are several locations, including the Burren, a unique barren landscape in County Clare, that have achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site status and attracts visitors. The entire coastline of this area forms a large part of the newly formed “Wild Atlantic Way” tourist trail. Furthermore, Galway, the largest city in the region, will be European Capital of culture in 2020.
The main challenges here include a declining population, unemployment, emigration, and the age profile of fishermen which is not helped by the difficulty of attracting young people into fishing. The distance from markets combined with poor infrastructure and the seasonality of the industry hamper growth in the sector.
Up to 80% of the coast line from Killary Harbour in north of FLAG area to the Shannon Estuary in south is classified as a Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).
FLAG West seeks to tackle unemployment and social exclusion in coastal communities. It is also hoped to attract young people to the fishing and aquaculture sector as well as developing marine tourism.
They also plan to develop the skill set of those involved in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors as part of a broader effort to enable diversification in these industries. Environmental protection is also something that the organisation seeks to keep in mind throughout the execution of the strategy.
There will be calls two to three times a year. The closing date for 1st call is 15th March.
Municipal Authorities, Regional Development Authority (Irish speaking), Educational/Training Board, Leader, Tourism Authority, Inshore Fishing Industry, Aquaculture, Seafood Exporters, Marine Tourism, Environmental Sector Coastal and Island Communities.