In the case of this project, after a study visit to the FLAG located in Fyn, Denmark, a fishers’ association member from Bulgaria was inspired to adapt one of the Danish projects to his local area. The Bulgarian FLAG identified the strengthening of tourism and recreational fishing as priorities for the Rhodopes area, to be achieved while respecting the protected natural areas. This project aimed to boost tourism and improve local knowledge of fisheries heritage.
Through this FLAG project, the local Hunting and Fishing Society built a fisheries exhibition centre in an old building they owned and designed the material to be showcased, such as full-size replicas of the local fish species. They also developed a web platform which lists tourist and fisheries information such as accommodation, info points, fishing tackle shops, as well as shops and restaurants where visitors can taste fresh products.
Launched in 2020, the web platform received more than 1,700 visits in its first couple of months, and the exhibition centre is being used for school visits, environmental education activities, raising-awareness events as well as knowledge-sharing on topics relating to natural heritage. This project has already proved to be transferable and could represent a useful good practice for all fisheries areas with the potential to develop fisheries-based tourism, especially where the protected status of the area to be exploited makes it difficult to start new businesses.
The project was coordinated by the Devin Hunting and Fishing Society in collaboration with the High Western Rhodopes FLAG. While the total budget of the project was €43,271, the EU contributed with €36,780 through funding from the EMFF.