Earlier this year, the Holderness Coast Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) launched its second programme of funding for the fishing industry under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). This follows a programme of funding between 2011 and 2015 which saw over 60 projects funded by the FLAG.
The current programme will run until 2020 and it is expected that all of the money that has been allocated to the FLAG (£800k of EMFF and Government funding) will be committed within the next eighteen months.
A number of applications for funding have already been received and agreed by the FLAG Board and the Marine Management Organisation have recently announced the approval of grant aid to one of these projects.
This relates to an application by the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NEIFCA) which will see the University of Hull Business School undertake a comprehensive study of the marketing of Holderness coast lobster.
The local lobster fishery is the largest in Europe with over one million lobster landed worth around £7 million at first landing. The industry overall is estimated to be worth around £35 million to the local economy.
However over 80% of the local catch is exported to Europe, primarily France, Spain and Portugal where it is highly valued and if the UK leaves the EU without a favourable deal there could be significant adverse effects on the industry.
The study will identify alternative opportunities for the local industry including evaluating alternative markets, developing a stronger domestic market and helping to secure its future by developing a local brand for locally caught lobster. The study will involve close consultation with the fishing industry and other key stakeholders.
Jeremy Wilcock from the University of Hull, said: "We are very pleased to be given this opportunity to undertake this study which could prove of fundamental importance to the future of the local industry. The university attaches importance to research work which has a positive impact on the local community. The value of the fishing industry both in terms of direct value and in terms of the tourist industry is immense and it is vital that it should be sustained".
David McCandless, chief officer of NEIFCA, said: "This is a very important and timely project to be involved in as our local fishing industry navigates the uncertainties of UK's exit from the EU".
Other FLAG projects are in the pipeline, which are expected to receive funding shortly, including one for the purchase of insulated fish boxes for use by the local fishing fleet – further details to follow.
The Holderness Coast FLAG is a public/private partnership combining representatives from the local industry as well as local communities and organisations involved in coastal issues. East Riding of Yorkshire Council is the lead body on the partnership and the Marine Management Organisation is the accountable body for the funding.