Fisheries Areas Network

Good Practice Project

Autumn Passages 2020: promoting fisheries in the old city of Nessebar

The municipality of Nessebar organised the first edition of “Autumn Passages” in 2020. During this festival, the local community and tourists enjoyed of a wide range of activities to promote Black Sea fisheries products, fishing as a profession and preserving maritime heritage.


Nessebar is one of the most ancient cities in Europe and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Historically, fishing has been one of the most traditional economic activities. This was the motivation for organising the first edition of the festival. It took place during October, a month outside of peak season, but a time that still sees Nessebar receiving a large number of international tourists.

The project included the purchase of specialised equipment for the festival, such as a stage, and an LED screen. A large-scale advertising and media campaign promoted the event as an opportunity to taste fish specialities and offered festival goers the opportunity to learn about fishing activities in the local area. The three-day festival included demonstrations by fishers to promote the profession; tasting sessions based on local products; a competition among fishers to make the best fish soup using traditional recipes onboard local fishing vessels; and artisanal exhibitions with the sea and fisheries as the main theme.

The Nessebar-Messemvria FLAG took also part in the festival, with an exhibition stand where visitors had the chance to taste local fish products and get information on what the FLAG does, FLAG project results and opportunities, and how to apply for EMFF funding.


This first edition of the festival had over 5 000 visitors, including tourists from five different countries (Romania, Germany, Poland, Russia and Ukraine). During the event, the whole FLAG area and the fishers’ labour and products were nationally and internationally promoted. The event improved the wellbeing of the local population and increased off-season tourism, which was also a diversification opportunity for fishers and other communities in Nessebar. This diversification is especially important in an area heavily impacted by COVID-19, due to its economic dependence on tourism.

The project involved all the local fishers, owners of fishing vessels and companies operating in the area. About 50 fishers were directly involved in the design and general management of event activities, and all of them (150) participated in the different activities. The media campaign for promoting the festival include 60 publications in the mainstream media and social media networks. Equipment purchased will ensure the sustainability of the initiative, which will continue in the coming years.


Cultural festivals are easily adapted as a way to promote the strengths and highlight the attractions of every local area. This is especially interesting for areas where a lack of visibility of the fisheries character has been identified. The festival is a way to highlight a part of the community that is often neglected - those working in the fisheries sector. This kind of project can also increase economic diversification of the area.

Lessons & contribution to CLLD objectives: 

Lessons: This first festival exceeded initial expectations. It was organised by a local municipality, able to provide a wide experience in public events management, identifying local needs by working with the FLAG, who have the capacity to mobilise the fishing community. The feedback received from participants this year will improve future editions. Moreover, this festival ended up being an effective cooperation tool between the FLAG, the local municipality and local community to achieve the common goal of revitalising the fishing activities in the area during the autumn, when the lack of tourists creates difficulties for the local economy. Thanks to the tourists attracted by the festival, local fishers and businesses managed to achieve extra income at an especially difficult time. The 2021 event is expected to be longer – up to 7 days – and include different elements, such as sporting activities.

Contribution to CLLD objective: d) promoting social well-being and cultural heritage in fisheries and aquaculture areas, including fisheries, aquaculture and maritime cultural heritage


Total project cost €101 378
FLAG grant €101 378
  • EU contribution (EMFF): €86 171
  • Public contribution (regional): €15 207

Project information

Timeframe of implementation From Oct 2020
Sea Basins
Type of area


Nessebar Municipality
Publication date: 
PDF Version