Wednesday, 01 March 2017 00:00

Fighting for a sustainable coastal fishery

Fisheries Local Action Group Djursland

A peninsula on the eastern coast of Jutland on the doorstep of Denmark’s second largest city, Aarhus, Djursland comprises the municipalities of Syddjurs and Norddjurs. Under the European Fisheries Fund the first FLAG Djursland was established in 2007, while the second, under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, started in 2014 and only covers the municipality of Norddjurs. The vision of the FLAG is to make Norddjurs an area with an active and thriving commercial and social life in the towns and villages throughout the municipality. Projects that contribute to achieving this vision will be supported by the FLAG. Helle Breindahl, the FLAG co-ordinator, says that the FLAG, has three main focus points, the coastal fishery, which gets half the available support, marine resources, and tourism, each of which gets a quarter. Nordisk Tang has benefited from support from the FLAG because it fits well in the FLAG’s strategy, and because it has shown how it can rapidly create jobs.

Helle Bøge Breindahl
Fishermen are a store of local knowledge that will be lost to the community if the coastal fishery fails to thrive, something that the FLAG is working hard to prevent.

Kattegat Seaweed is another start-up, but one that sees potential at the start of the seaweed value-chain. It is planning to produce seaweed by cultivating it and by harvesting wild stocks. Kattegat Seaweed too has benefited from funding from the FLAG. In this case for a project to convert a vessel so that it could be used to harvest seaweed. Companies like these not only bring employment, but they give work to people such as fishermen, who have the right skills, yet who have lost their original livelihood. Supporting projects like those initiated by Nordisk Tang and Kattegat Seaweed will create sustainable jobs and sustainable growth in the area, which is one of the objectives of the FLAG, says Ms Breindahl. If we strengthen the value chain locally, we keep the jobs. Fishermen have important local knowledge that we need to keep in the community. If the coastal fishery shrinks and fishers can no longer work, their knowledge of local fishing areas and their skills as fishermen and as sailors will be lost. However, companies like Kattegat Seaweed create opportunities for fishermen, for example, to harvest seaweed instead of fish, thus giving the fishers new ways to use their skills and knowledge, and preserving them for future generations.

One of the main goals of the FLAG is the survival of the coastal fishery in Grenaa and Bønnerup, an activity that, according to Ms Breindahl, has been shrinking partly because of the falling quotas and the lower prices compared to those at harbours, for instance, on the west coast. The coastal fishery is an absolute priority and half the funding available to the FLAG will benefit the coastal fishery in one way or another. The FLAG is looking at different ways of selling the catch so that the fishers can earn a higher price, and at methods that will add greater value to the catch, she says. At the same time, she is aware, that alternative sources of income also have to be considered. Working with tourists could be one, harvesting seaweed could be another. In other countries synergies exist between fishing and seaweed cultivation so that fishers catch shellfish one half of the year and harvest seaweed the other half, and similar synergies may be possible in Denmark too.

It is a delicate balance the FLAG must strike between putting resources into maintaining the coastal fisheries and at the same time funding an escape route should the plan fail. For the time being, however, Ms Breindahl is categorical, “we are not ready to give up, we are not yet admitting defeat for the coastal fishery.”