>> 22 December 2015
Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Fisheries Working Group Cllr Charles Buchan has hailed the results delivered by the Aberdeenshire European Fisheries Fund (AEFF) and the economic boost given to projects and businesses in Fraserburgh, Macduff, Banff, Whitehills and Portsoy.
More than £650,000 of economic development funding has helped deliver £2.1million of projects in the North-east's coastal communities.
At the start of this month, the 2012-2015 AEFF funding programme officially closed. Financed by the European Commission, the programe was administered locally by the Aberdeenshire Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) partnership, in which Aberdeenshire Council is the lead partner.
Applicants were awarded more than £650,000 in Axis 4 EFF grants, helping to deliver a total value of £2.1million of projects.
The programme funded 24 projects promoting economic diversification both within and outwith the fishing industry; building capacity in communities, creating training and job opportunities and revitalising fisheries areas. Two new businesses and 27 full time jobs were created as a direct result.
Projects included the conversion of an unused fisheries building at Whitehills Marina into a high quality seafood restaurant. “The Galley” opened in summer 2013 and has proved extremely popular with local residents, tourists and harbour users. It aims to create a seafood culinary experience by showcasing locally-landed produce, improving the offering for visitors and tourists.
The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival organisation successfully restored a derelict building at Portsoy Harbour into a Boatshed. The newly-restored building will provide all-year-round boat building training and enable young people to learn new skills including rope and sail making and rigging.
Macduff Shipyards, Macduff’s largest employer, was funded to install a new boat launching ramp way at Macduff Harbour. The project has helped increase efficiency and reduce costs for the company in the long term by ensuring that a purpose-built, inclined concrete ramp can launch steel tugs directly into the water, eliminating the need to transport vessels to the water by crane.
Fraserburgh Harbour benefited from two AEFF-funded projects, including the installation of pontoons allowing 30-40 smaller vessels to use the port on a regular basis. This transformed the harbour’s South Basin, developing it into a community asset and enabling Harbour Commissioners to diversify further through increased trade and income from extra berthing capabilities.
WiFi was installed in both Fraserburgh fish markets, after users expressed concerns about mobile phone connectivity during daily fish auction sales.
A one-tonne ice machine was installed at Banff Harbour to benefit the inshore fishermen of the Moray Firth coast. This Aberdeenshire Council-led project allows local fishermen to obtain ice easily and convieniently, helping to maintain the freshness of locally-landed seafood and increasing the quality and saleability of products. The aim is to support the local inshore fishing community and increase economic potential by strengthening competitiveness.
The Fisheries Local Action Group has undertaken an evaluation of the AEFF programme to measure the success of its delivery and assess how well priorities in the Local Development Strategy have been met. An Evaluation Study has since been developed and will be publicly available in due course.
Commenting, Cllr Charles Buchan said:
“I pay tribute to the small team at Aberdeenshire Council who have worked with the community to raise awareness of these funding opportunities and for the work they have done in guiding applicants through the process.
“The projects concerned are excellent examples of how such a scheme can help local communities to deliver an economic boost to their area by supporting local entrepeneurs.”
Aberdeenshire Council's Head of Economic Development and FLAG chair, Belinda Miller, said:
“AEFF has delivered a wide range of projects that collectively improve people’s lives and businesses in the area through the provision of regeneration, diversification and capacity building.
“The fund has provided real opportunities for economic and social prosperity in coastal communities through the creation of jobs, new businesses and training provided.
“My thanks go to all those public sector bodies that provided the co-finance to match the Axis 4 grants, as well as the AEFF team who administered the programme”.
The council’s European Team is now focusing its attention on the new EMFF (European Maritime Fisheries Fund) programme in the hope of securing a further allocation of Axis 4 fisheries funds for Aberdeenshire in the new European Funded period from 2014 to 2020.
When the Aberdeenshire FLAG has a new allocation of funding confirmed, events will be arranged in coastal areas to inform potential applicants about the eligibility criteria.
It is anticipated that this new fund would be launched in January 2016.