Joy as �2.4m funding for Norfolk fishing heritage is confirmed

The beleaguered Norfolk fishing industry has been given a big boost by the confirmation of �2.4m to revive it and support its dwindling work force.

Environmental chiefs in Brussels have confirmed that the lump sum will be handed over to provide a sustainable future for fishermen on a 59-mile stretch from Thornham to Caister, and inshore businesses linked to the traditional trade.

The money will be used to boost the competitiveness of the north Norfolk fishery, open up new markets, provide infrastructure and ensure the environmental impact of fishing remains minimal.

North Norfolk's Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) was behind the proposal and submitted a detailed plan – via the UK's Marine Management Organisation (MMO) – to the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).

It showed how it would spend the cash on areas including infrastructure, marketing, education and getting EU protection for the famous Cromer crab, as part of a bid to help save the threatened Cromer Crab Company.

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There is also a longer-term vision to create a fisheries training school.

John Williams, North Norfolk FLAG chairman, said: 'This is a wonderful opportunity for everyone involved in the north Norfolk fishing industry to work together to meet the threats and challenges facing its future.'

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Ivan Large, chairman of the Wells and District Inshore Fishermen's Association and the North Norfolk Fishermen's Society, said: 'Local fishermen welcome the benefits that this funding will bring to north Norfolk. Our fishermen have a long tradition of hard work, producing a quality product, and have been concerned for some time about the lack of young people coming into the industry.

'This new funding will help ensure the future of the sector, promoting the renowned Cromer crab and Norfolk shellfish, and I would like to thank North Norfolk District Council for all its hard work in leading this initiative.'

The funding announcement will be officially made in Cromer on Tuesday - at the same time as the comprehensive package of projects is confirmed.

The scheme, led by the district council, comprises an agreement signed between FLAG and the MMO, responsible for marine issues in the UK, which has opened up access to the funds, including �1.3m from EFF and match-funding from other sources.

Specific projects include a visitor and heritage centre, protection for the Cromer crab, new equipment at the 20 launch and landing points around the 59-mile stretch of coast, and financial support such as the creation of a fishermen's micro-finance scheme to help businesses connected to the fishery develop into the future.

At the heart of the programme is a fisheries and communities engagement programme, managed by North Norfolk Business Forum, which exists to promote and encourage uptake of the projects and can be applied for by businesses and individuals within the target area.

Tom FitzPatrick, district council cabinet member for business enterprise and economic development, said: 'Despite the many challenges, I am confident this will allow a profitable, sustainable industry to develop in the future, bringing long-term job prospects for local young people, while continuing to be an integral part of our attraction to tourists and visitors.'

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