North Thames FLAG



Supporting the Fishing Industry and the Port in Leigh-on-Sea and the North Thames


The North Thames FLAG is a Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) initiative, driven by local fishers to create a sustainable fishing industry in the North Thames– Environmentally, Economically and Socially.

We aim to imbed the fishing industry of the North Thames into the heart of North Thames coastal communities, by funding projects to bring local fisheries to the forefront.

We are covering the North Thames, from Thurrock to Shoeburyness (the FLAG area can be seen in the map above). However, there are many other FLAGs, all across Europe. Together we have helped to support over 10,000 projects, bringing benefits to local communities, you can see where the FLAGs have been located so far below and find out more about other FLAGs here



FLAGs are not alone in supporting fishing communities, the New Economic Foundation have developed their project the Blue New Deal. This project looks at revitalising coastal communities; you can watch the clip below to see how a little help and funding can aid fishermen to do incredible things.


Blue New Deal: building better coastal economies from New Economics Foundation on Vimeo.


To help our fishermen in the North Thames, we will be supporting and funding projects which come under five priority areas, which local fishermen have identified. 

  1. Infrastructure around Leigh Port

Leigh-on-Sea has been a fishing port for more than 1,000 years and is now the last of its kind on the North Thames. However, it is under threat, primarily from a lack of access, due to competition in Old Leigh with other industries but also from the continuing siltation of Leigh Creek, reducing vessel access. Finding long-term sustainable solutions to these issues is key to a future fishing industry in Leigh-on-Sea. Fishing in Leigh-on-Sea provides cultural identity, attracting tourists to the port for the sales of fish and shellfish. Investigating the challenges facing the port will also include improving facilities on the Port.

Below is the port as it is now.



  1. Environmental monitoring

The Thames Estuary is a nursery for many fish species and contributes to the wider fish populations of the North Sea, as well as the general wildlife of the Thames. There is also an active fishing industry based in the North Thames, in recent years, fish populations have declined and fishermen are no longer observing fish patterns that they once did. Monitoring the environmental changes of the Thames Estuary will lead to a better understanding of the flora and fauna and why changes have occurred. The FLAG invites project ideas in monitoring the Thames with particular attention to species which are targeted by local fishermen.



  1. Marketing

The Thames is home to many species and fish from there is a local, healthy source of omega oils and protein. The fishing industry in the Thames has a long and culturally rich history. Today the fishing industry brings in tourists, who view the boats and port, and stop for a fish supper or to go to local markets.  Our preliminary surveys have found that local businesses unrelated to the fishing industry,  recognise the value that the Thames fisheries bring to them. The North Thames FLAG want to promote the Thames as a local source of seafood. We would like to work to advertise some of the less commonly eaten, but still delicious species that are caught locally, and promote a more varied approach to eating seafood. We want to help the fishing industry to advertise themselves as a sustainable, local source of seafood, promoting the fishing industry locally.




The North Thames FLAG development process identified the need to engage new entrants into the fishing industry as the lack of new entrants in the area has lead to a reduction in the fishing industry. Traditionally fishers have been recruited via family and friends, and there is currently no communication to students and young people about fisheries as a viable career.

However, the fishing industry can offer an accessible, exciting and rewarding career  path, with more options than you may think. The North Thames FLAG aims to open these up by exploring training opportunities. As well as linking young people to existing training opportunities which will provide a way to a fulfilling career on the Thames.



  1. Culture and heritage

The local identity of Leigh-on-Sea as a working port is of major importance to the local community, economy and wider Southend area. The fishing industry shapes the character of the local coastline but the industry is less embedded in the local community than it was in the past. Making clear links between fishing and the history of Leigh as a town, and championing the local fishing industry as a point of interest and  a driver for tourism to the area, will help build local support for the future.



You can find out more about the project and the key priority areas by reading our Local Development Strategy

The North Thames Fisheries Local Action Group (NTFLAG) is a three year program funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) between 2017 and 2020.

The FLAG is managed by Thames Estuary Partnership working with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and many local and national partners including The Cultural Engine, local fishermen and cocklers, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Leigh Port Partnership, Leigh Town Council, Port of London Authority, universities and more.

Please see our newsletters here:  

Summer 2017

Winter 2017

Please see our press releases here: 

MSC Accreditation Press Release

If you would like to access North Thames FLAG funding for a project in the North Thames area that aligns with priorities 1-5 you can find the application forms here:

1. Part 1 – Expression of Interest

2. Part 2 – What you will need for the E-system (brief)

3. Part 2 – Applicant guidance (detail)

4. North Thames FLAG Project Criteria – Scoring

NTFLAG Business Case Template (projects over £25000)

If you would like to access EMFF Core scheme funding please see the list of eligible funding items here : Eligible Items for Fisheries 


FLAG support

Anna Patel
North Thames Fisheries Local Action Group – Fisheries Animateur

Contact Anna for help with project ideas, to appeal against a project rejection and for help with applications, filling out forms and any other project related questions.

07710 642127   

Amy Pryor

North Thames Fisheries Local Action Group – Programme Manager

Contact Amy for general FLAG related enquiries and information about development and strategy.

020 7679 8855


As community-led local development all FLAGs have a board, to help steer the direction of the FLAG. View our FLAG board members here. Our next board meetings at Leigh Community Centre, Room 6 :

There will be no further Board meetings until October, dates will be released soon.

Copies of the board meeting minutes are available here:

NTFLAG Board Meeting minutes 10.04.17  

NTFLAG Board Meeting minutes 02.06.17 

NTFLAG Board Meeting minutes 21.07.17

NTFLAG Board Meeting minutes 29.09.17

NTFLAG Board Meeting minutes 01.12.17

NTFLAG Board Meeting minutes 26.01.18

NTFLAG Board Meeting minutes 23.03.18

NTFLAG Board Meeting minutes 18.05.16

There will be no more board meetings until October. Please feel free to discuss any project ideas with NTFLAG staff.

Environmental Monitoring Working Group: 

Environmental Working Group Meeting Minutes (16/05/2017)

Environmental Working Group Meeting Minutes (04/07/2017)


Fish/Shellfish Combined Marketing Working Group

 Fish/Shellfish Combined Marketing Minutes (30/05/17) 

Fish/Shellfish Combined Marketing Minutes (18/07/2017)

Training/Marine Academy Working Group

 Training Marine Academy Working Group Meeting Minutes (22/05/2017)

Training Marine Academy Working Group Meeting Minutes (18/07/2017)



There are 6 FLAGs across England, you can view websites for the other 5 FLAGs here:

Dorset and East Devon FLAG

Cornwall FLAG

Holderness FLAG

Hastings FLAG 

North of Tyne FLAG


FLAGs are an EU funded initiative, FARNET brings together the FLAG network and showcases example projects.