North Thames Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) was launched last month in Old Leigh, Essex, to deliver a community-led local development strategy in 2017-2020. It will administer an £800,000 award from the EMFF (Fishing News, 30 March).

Above: Pictured at the recent launch of the North Thames Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) are L-R: Graeme High, MMO; Amy Pryor, programme manager TEP; Catherine Murphy, MMO; Pat Fitzsimmons, director TEP; Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West; Cllr John Lamb, leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough council; Darren White, Tideway; Andrew Rattley, Kershaw Seafoods; Giles Tofield, Cultural Engine; Anna Patel, NTFLAG fisheries animator. Centre on chair is Peter Wexham, Leigh Port Partnership and retired fisherman.

Pat Fitzsimons, director of Thames Estuary Partnership, discussed the context of the FLAG in the Greater Thames Estuary and the long-term sustainability of the North Thames fishing community.

Local MP Sir David Amess, (Southend West), said he is looking forward to seeing the benefits of the projects for the fishing industry, and outlined the five priority areas involved in the FLAG: Leigh quay infrastructure; environmental monitoring; combined fish/shellfish marketing; training and marine academy; culture and heritage.

North Thames

Local North Thames boats alongside the quay at Leigh.

Cllr John Lamb, leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and chair of the Kent and Essex IFCA, said he was pleased to have the EU investment in Leigh as an active fishing port and to ensure the future sustainability of the fishing industry of the North Thames.

Tideway’s head of environmental sustainability, Darren White, expressed Tideway’s support of the FLAG. Once constructed, the Thames super sewer will vastly improve water quality upstream, which will contribute to the health of commercial fish stocks in the long term.

Andrew Rattley of Kershaw Seafoods highlighted the collaboration of different industries involved in the FLAG and stressed the importance of local business such as cockle processing and finfish supply chains in the area.

The attendees visited Leigh Fishermen’s Co-op and the cockle processing sheds of Osborne Bros, which supplies seafood platters, including the famous Leigh cockles.

North Thames

Real-time data and science are pivotal to the long-term future of fishing.

Amy Pryor, programme manager of the NTFLAG briefly discussed the process to apply for funding, how the FLAG will be managed and the main points of contact involved.

The FLAG will bring together key partners involved in the fishing industry and future sustainability of the North Thames area including the fishermen, Leigh Port Partnership, councils, the Coastal Community Teams, sea anglers, local residents and businesses, academia and NGOs.

The geographical area the NTFLAG covers stretches from Thurrock to Shoeburyness, with a focus on Leigh where all the locally-registered vessels land.

For more information, contact fisheries animator Anna Patel at: anna@culturalengine.org.uk or on: 07710 642127.

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