My Department's EMFF Operational Programme is providing €240 million in financial supports to our seafood sector over the period 2014-20. The Programe includes a Fisheries Local Area Development Scheme which implements a community-led local development approach to the socio-economic development of coastal communities. Through the Scheme, seven Fisheries Local Action Groups were selected in 2017 to disperse a Scheme budget of €12 million.
Each of the seven FLAGs devised a Local Development Strategy which guides their activities. The boards of each of these FLAGs have full autonomony within the rules of the EMFF Programme to select projects for funding and I have no function in those decisions. Selection of such projects by the FLAGs is a competitive process. The Scheme has proved very sucessful to date with calls for applications routinely significantly over-subscribed. Thus, only a limited number of applications can be successful each year.
In 2020, some 453 applications were received, with 164 applications for tranche 1 and 93 grants awarded, while for tranche 2 there were 289 applications and 56 projects awarded grants.
FLAG North East covers the coastal areas of Counties Louth, Meath and Dublin. Under tranche 1, FLAG North East received 25 applications and some six projects were selected for grant awards totalling €210,309 contributing to total investment of €291,184. Under tranche 2, FLAG North East received 35 applications and some 4 projects were selected for grant awards of €204,318 contributing towards total investment of €364,148.
Of the applications to FLAG North East in 2020, six were from County Louth. I understand that one was successful. Of the remaining five, I understand that two were for festivals and because of Covid restrictions, festivals did not generally proceed and thus did not attract funding. I understand that one project was judged ineligible under the scheme, while the other two could not be completed in 2020 and so were not prioritised for funding by FLAG North East.