Supporting the Fishing Industry and the Port in Leigh-on-Sea and the North Thames
The North Thames Fisheries Local Action Group is a Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) initiative, driven by the local fishing community to create a sustainable fishing industry in the North Thames – Environmentally, Economically and Socially. The North Thames Fisheries Local Action Group aims to embed the fishing industry in Leigh on Sea into the heart of North Thames coastal communities, by funding projects to bring local fisheries to the forefront. The North Thames FLAG area covers Thurrock to Shoeburyness on the Essex coastline.
The North Thames Fisheries Local Action Group is a three year program funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund between 2017 and 2020. The North Thames FLAG is managed by Thames Estuary Partnership working with the Marine Management Organisation 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.
The programme consists of a North Thames FLAG board (organisations listed above), whom convene every two months to discuss project ideas to fund. The North Thames FLAG is looking to fund projects aligning with the five priority areas listed below. For updates on the projects and funding please check newsletters and reports below or our Twitter page.
You can find out more about the programme and the key priority areas by reading our Local Development Strategy .
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.
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.
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.
Training and Education
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
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.
Please Note: The North Thames FLAG has stopped accepting funding applications. Information about projects will be posted soon on their completion. Wider/EMFF Core applications are still being accepted by the Marine Management Organisation – information can be found here;
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.
North Thames Fisheries Local Action Group – Programme Manager
Contact Amy for general FLAG related enquiries and information about development and strategy.
020 7679 8855
Please see our newsletters here:
Please see our Interim Report (August 2018) here
The North Thames FLAG board helps to steer the direction of the strategy and approve applicant projects. View the North Thames FLAG board members here.
Working Group meeting minutes:
There are many other FLAGs, all across Europe and together we have helped to support over 10,000 projects, bringing benefits to local communities. There are 6 FLAGs in England, you can view websites for the other 5 FLAGs here:
FLAGs are an EU funded initiative, FARNET brings together the FLAG network and showcases example projects.