North Norfolk’s fishing community given a cash funding boost.

North Norfolk's fishing community is set to be given a cash funding boost to help fund projects to make the industry more sustainable.

The district is one of six coastal communities in England to have been designated as a 'Fisheries Local Action Group' (FLAG) as part of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) Axis 4 project.

The designation means north Norfolk will receive a share of a €4.6m European fund.

How much of that north Norfolk will get is not yet clear, it will only be decided when ideas for projects and schemes which will help all sections of the industry in the district have been submitted to the fund.

The fund, which is run in England by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), aims to develop smaller communities in England which largely depend on fishing for employment.

The North Norfolk group includes the fishing ports of Wells, Blakeney, Sheringham and Cromer, where last year a total of around �965,000 (493 tonnes) of fish was landed by 62 fishing vessels.

The bid to be designated as a FLAG and to receive a share of funding was led by Robin Smith, economic and tourism development manager at North Norfolk District Council.

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He said: 'This is important to North Norfolk because the inshore fishing sector, composed of small boats mainly fishing from 14 beaches along a 50 mile stretch of the North Norfolk coast, supports the tourism sector which is the main economic driver in north Norfolk.

'It's part of our charm as well as our livelihood however, and importantly the fishing sector faces substantial challenges into the future, the loss of earnings as a result of fishing quotes, challenges posed by the development of wind energy off the North Norfolk coast and not least, growing market pressures.

'This programme will have a major long-term impact on the economic sustainability of the sector.'

He said now they have been given the FLAG status, the group would be working with all sections of the fishing industry, from those catching the fish, through to places where they are cooked, and also where the fishing industry is marketed, to discuss what help is needed.

Some of the things highlighted by Mr Smith as to how the fund could be used to help north Norfolk, were the ability to network with other fishing communities, improving things such as the security of equipment on beaches, creating a strong North Norfolk brand and increasing demand for fisheries products.

He also said money from the fund could be used to help attract younger people into the sector to ensure its sustainability in the long term and also ensure fishermen and others in the sector have training opportunities that meet their needs.

He said they were hopeful they would be able to claim a fair chunk of the fund money.

Matt Mander, clerk and chief fishery officer with the Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee, said: 'This funding is great news. I know under the stewardship of Robin Smith, who has done a great deal over the years on behalf of the fishing industry in north Norfolk, that the money will be put to good use and will benefit the local community and fishermen.'