New business opportunities for fishing communities around the North Sea

Project Title
New business opportunities for fishing communities around the North Sea
Priority 1 Thinking Growth: Supporting growth in North Sea Region economies
Lead Beneficiary
Municipality of MIddelburg
Contact Person First Name
Contact Person Last Name
Kanaalweg 3
P.O. Box
Postbus 6000
Postal Code
4330 LA
Central Aim

To develop a viable and sustainable future economy, based on the historic role and core qualities and values of fishing communities. It aims to make maximum use of the available social, cultural and economic capital within these communities. The project activities are focused on developing new business opportunities and innovation through cooperation of SMEs, knowledge institutes, maritime stakeholders, regional authorities and municipalities and the fishermen themselves.

Project Description


To enhance innovation through the development and market introduction of new business opportunities;

To create new “knowledge partnerships” and cooperation between private and public organisations, stimulating the commercial take up of innovative products and services;

To improve the competitiveness of fishing communities by place marketing.

The project aims to strengthen innovation by developing new economic activities based on the social, cultural and economic capital of fishing communities around the North Sea. New formal cooperation will be set up between SMEs, independent entrepreneurs, local interest groups, knowledge institutes, the public sector and end users (e.g. in the field of fishery, tourism, marketing, cultural and natural heritage, education, health). These new sectoral cross-overs will provide knowledge that is necessary to support the development and market introduction of new business opportunities. Involvement of local stakeholders is important to realize economic added value for the fishing communities themselves.

The project supports the creation of joint ventures between private and public organisations in order to adapt new technologies, create new products and services, organise the take up of new product-market combinations. The “knowledge partnerships” and new joint ventures will enhance the regional innovation support capacity of the fishing communities that will also increase long-term business innovation. Successful products and services will be delivered also after the project has finished and contribute to economic broadening and strengthening of the social economic resilience of fishing communities in the North Sea Region.

Envisaged Output

Improved knowledge capacity in and flows between private and public organisations related to fishing communities

Best practices and lessons learned (do’s and don’ts)

Cooperation between SMEs, research institutes (with local scope and international knowledge like ILVO or Imares), local organisations, the public sector, end users (e.g. in the field of fishery, tourism, marketing, cultural and natural assets, education, food or health)

New realised market opportunities or bigger market shares for products and services relevant to fishing communities

Tested innovative marketing approaches

Better positioning and profiling of fishing communities and harbours.

Increased knowledge flows and innovation potential on long term.

Improved support of public organisations to innovations related to fishing communities.

Involvement of local economic, social and cultural organisations to generate economic innovation and economic broadening

What is the need for this project?

Shared challenges

In the North Sea Programme area many small scale coastal fisheries are struggling financially, or are disappearing altogether, being overruled by large fishing companies with more financial resources to buy quota, or struggling under administrative burdens and inadequate policy frameworks. The European Union recognises the valuable role that small scale fishing can play in coastal communities. Socioeconomic development of small scale fishing activities in European coastal zones is needed in order to let these activities (re)flourish in a sustainable and valuable way with the potential to lead to increased employment, food security and social and cultural wellbeing of coastal communities in general.

Historically, small scale fisheries are important for local communities. However, the economic situation and outlook for small-scale fisheries in the North Sea region is not positive. Their contribution to regional income and employment is low and declining. Nevertheless, history has proven that fishing communities along the North sea Coast posses highly adaptive potential to change their way of life and business. Fishermen (and in the cultural mind set of fishing community members) contain a resourcefulness that could be better used to tackle the actual challenges. Increased efforts are necessary to better position and profile the fishing communities and their harbours.

The partners in this project will cooperate to reinforce (the cohesion of) these communities, their economic position and their competitiveness. The project will focus on the old core qualities and values of the fisheries and fishing communities, and make maximum use of the available social, cultural and economic capital within these communities.

Business innovation and knowledge partnership

The project partners will develop new business opportunities, based on authenticity (story telling), attractive products (looks, craftsmanship) and unique selling points (attractive setting and personal touch). Joint ventures between fishing communities around the North Sea will be stimulated to generate solid sales for the SMEs involved. Contacts between fishermen and fishing communities, originating from historical fishery migrating routes, will now be recreated /tightened for exchange and trade. The project will seek to (re)discover the full innovative potential of fishing communities. Local capacity and valuable assets will be input for the development of new products or marketing channels (new and mixed media, e-marketing). At the same time partners may use region marketing and place branding to stimulate new cross overs and innovative processes.

To boost innovation, knowledge flows between research and business in this field must be improved and extended. Due to a relative self-sufficient way of living of fishermen and fishing communities, knowledge exchange with other organisations will/has not developed spontaneous.

The project will bring entrepreneurs, interest groups, public authorities, organisations representing end users and knowledge institutes together. This so called knowledge partnership will act at different level and scale with different points of view, representing fishery, tourism, marketing, education, food or even health. Different expertise, experience and information will interfere and can improve innovation processes.

Project partners will develop and test new business innovations and ensure the widest possible take up of effective marketing methods. The partners explore ways to reduce geographical barriers to new knowledge and support the (new) joint ventures in response to market changes and to access (international) markets.

The transnational cooperation will be an effective method to analyse the best circumstances for transferability / high market share and to select successful innovations. The project period has a laboratory function; economic failures and successes are both valuable. Lessons on both will be disseminated to relevant stakeholders.

Thematic Keywords
Growth and jobs
New products and services
Place-based approaches
Societal challenges
Stimulating innovation
Other Keywords
new business opportunities &networks, small scale fisheries, innovation SMEs, knowlegde partnerships
Partners Found Already

NL Gemeente Middelburg (Arnemuiden)

NL, VHL, University of Applied Sciences

NO, Kystkommunene Trøndelag

SE, Maritimaklustret

SE, Vestra Gotaland

probably interested:

BE, ILVO (Instituut voor Landbouw- en Visserijonderzoek)

DK, Midt Central Denmark Region

Partners Searched

German and UK partners

Estimated Budget

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