Orkney’s fishing industry is celebrating the allocation of nearly half a million pounds worth of funding to help develop the local sector.
The islands are one of eight areas in Scotland to receive a grant through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund – just over £482k of the £6.5m pot will come to Orkney.
The funding is aimed at supporting fishermen, sustainable aquaculture, the processing sector and the communities they’re based in.
Fishing is still an important part of the Orcadian economy – the total value of catch landed here in 2014 was worth just below £8m. The vast majority of that was from shellfish, including brown and velvet crabs and lobsters.
Orkney’s shellfish is seen as some of the best in the country, harvested from the pristine waters surrounding the islands. There are also important industry contracts in place with major UK supermarkets and suppliers.
There are more than 120 vessels in the Orkney fleet and you can see many of the creel boats steaming out of ports including Kirkwall, Stromness and Tingwall every morning. There are also three Orkney-owned whitefish trawlers.
The Orkney fishing sector has also been the focus of an excellent in-depth feature by the Fishing News – you can read the three part series here
The local funding through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will be administered by a Fisheries Local Action Group, made up of representatives from the industry and other public bodies.
Groups in the fishing and aquaculture industries, as well as fisheries based communities, will be able to apply for a share of the funds. The priority areas in Orkney are:
- The diversification and sustainable management of the local fisheries sector
- The development of new market opportunities
- Support for diversification initiatives in fisheries based communities
The fund isn’t open for applications yet but groups are being invited to enquire about potential ideas. To discuss project ideas contact the LEADER team at Orkney Islands Council on 01856 873535 ext 2811. An Orkney Fisheries Local Action Group website is set to be launched soon.