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.