University of Greenwich leads €4.6 million project to help regenerate fishing communities

Researchers at the University of Greenwich are leading a €4.6 million project helping to regenerate coastal fishing communities on both sides of the English Channel and the southern North Sea.

Focussing on towns and villages with traditional small scale fishing fleets, they will look at the ways local inshore fishing contributes to the identity of places and their communities, as well as seeking new sustainable opportunities to boost regeneration and economic growth.

The University of Greenwich team is headed by environmental geographers Dr Tim Acott and Dr Julie Urquhart, from the School of Science and social scientist Dr Minghua Zhao from the Greenwich Maritime Institute. They joined forces with research colleagues in France and Flanders to secure co-funding from the European Interreg IVa 2 Seas programme for the three-year project, Geography of Inshore Fishing and Sustainability.

Dr Urquhart says: “Inshore marine fishing is at the heart of so many places, whether they have just a few small fishing boats pulled up on a shingle beach or a harbour that is the centre of activity for a larger fishing fleet.

“You cannot think about places like Whitstable, Brixham or Newlyn without recalling fishing and local seafood. Inshore marine fishing is central to their identity as communities and places.”

The project was one of just 12 successful bids out of a total of 49 applications to the most recent European Regional Development Fund 2 Seas cross-border programme.

Project leader Dr Acott says: “We will be building on valuable research we have already been doing in fishing communities.

“Working with researchers in France and Flanders gives us a cross-cultural perspective and opportunities to share ideas and solutions to common problems – not least how the sense of identity within fishing communities can make a significant contribution to regeneration and sustainable economic growth.

“Our findings will help to provide the information people need to develop new activities on the ground to regenerate their communities and feed into policy decisions which will ensure a sustainable future. We are hoping to help to create a sense of shared identity in fishing places across the region.”

Plans include photographic exhibitions exploring life in fishing communities and a demonstration project of fishing heritage-led regeneration at the fishing village of Arnemuiden, in The Netherlands.

For further information contact Project Manager, Suzanne Louail. s.louail@gre.ac.uk

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