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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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£1.3m EU boost for fishermen

A £1.35 million splash of cash from Europe is set to revive the area’s ailing fishing industry.

fishylot
FLAG-TASTIC: Philip Lynne from the Marine Management Organisation (left) hands over the grant to Celia MacKenzie Chief Executive of Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners for the West Cumbria Fisheries Local Action group, with looking on (l to r) Diane Ward (CBC) Don Taylor (CBC) Susan Crooks (FLAG Administrator ) John McAvoy Maryport Fisheries Co-op and Flag)Paul Crooks (Flag project manager) Carolyn Cadman (MMO) Jonathan Parr (MMO) and Glynda Kennedy (Project Development Officer Flag) on the harbour at Whitehaven

All the main West and North Cumbria ports will benefit from what is likely to prove double-the-money matched funding from other sources such as Britain’s Energy Coast and Copeland Community Fund.

Whitehaven’s own historic harbour could also be transformed even further for fishing and the possibility of a flagship seafood restaurant similar to Rick Stein’s on the Cornish coast at Padstow.

Celia MacKenzie, Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners chief executive, said: “Any restaurant of this type along the North and West Cumbrian coast will just strengthen the whole of the industry. There is hardly anything in the area that wouldn’t benefit. This is one of the big projects we would love someone to take up the baton and promote.”

It is hoped that a celebrity chef such as Jean Christophe Novelli might be interested.

Celia said: “We’ve actually talked to Jean Christophe but I am leaving any further discussion on that to the Whitehaven Festival Company to see if they want to discuss and promote the idea. It would be absolutely fantastic if anything were to come of it.

“Over the last few years I’ve pestered Jean Christophe to make sure he uses local produce and fish in some of his cookery demonstrations, he’s been very accommodating.

“We have some very exciting projects already coming together which will help us market locally caught fish in much the same way as we see fell bred lamb and beef on the menus of hotels and restaurants in Cumbria as a whole. There are so few wet fish shops in the county that one idea is to introduce some fish markets in much the same way as the farmers’ markets.”

The aim of the £1.35 million windfall is to sustain the area’s existing fishing industry creating new businesses, new jobs and provide educational and training opportunities.

It will be spent on a 65-mile stretch of coastline from Millom and Ravenglass to Silloth with Whitehaven, Maryport, Workington and Silloth the main ports to benefit.

It comes from the European Fisheries Fund and Defra coinciding with this week’s launch of FLAG – the North and West Cumbria Fisheries Local Group.

Its role is to deliver a programme of projects designed to help the fishing communities in North and West Cumbria “build a more sustainable future for themselves”.

Celia added: “There is so much people in the local fishing communities can do to help decide how we can spend the money maintaining the coastline and anything at all to help our fishing communities stay on their own two feet.

“Anything we can do to improve the livelihood of fishermen and arrest the decline of the industry has to be good, reversing it even better.

“Our potential matched funders are very enthusiastic about strengthening the economy in this part of the world away from the nuclear industry. There has also been private sector interest in front-line fish processing which would be very exciting as this would also bring some job opportunities.

“There are about 20 businesses in this region which need support to stop their decline any further. As well as being able to retain staff we are looking at the moment of around 20 to 30 new jobs created over the next three years but overall this is an industry which has badly wanted investment for so long.”

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