Lithuania will soon have two fishermen’s paradises2013-10-29
The municipal governments of the Molėtai and Zarasai regions have been selected to implement the “Fishing Paradise” project. Minister of Environment Valentinas Mazuronis announced this today, October 29th, during a press conference held on the subject. According to the minister, environmental officers are giving more and more fines to those hurting the environment and are building the infrastructure necessary for those who want to relax in nature to be able to do so.
“This is the first time that the ministry doesn't just protect and prohibit, but creates as well,” - said National Tourism Department Director Raimonda Balnienė, praising the initiative. According to her, the “Fishing Paradise” project will do much to attract international tourists to Lithuania as well.
The Ministry of Environment initiated this project in August in an attempt to create a region that is attractive to amateur fishermen, to attract fishing tourism, and to increase local peoples' engagement through a combination of municipal and governmental funding and efforts. More than a third (22) of Lithuania's municipalities responded to the ministry's invitation to work together. During the first stage of selection, a work group commissioned by the Ministry of Environment evaluated the municipalities' suitability for the project based on various criteria – the area and diversity of their bodies of water, their existing fish stocks, the degree to which the surrounding environment has already been cared for, the project's influence on tourism development in the region, existing tourism infrastructure and this infrastructure’s applicability to the project's priorities. The proposals of three different municipalities – Lazdijai, Molėtai and Zarasai – were selected for the second stage of selection. One of the reasons why he Lazdijai region was not selected for this project was because many of the region's bodies of water are used for commercial fishing, which is difficult to reconcile with the goals of the “Fishing Paradise” project.
The Molėtai and Zarasai regions are considered to have some of the greatest regional recreational potential. These regions have always been attractive to amateur fishermen, although amateur fishing in them has never been purposefully developed. Because the Molėtai and Zarasai regional municipalities are two leaders in in tourism infrastructure and marketing, the “Fishing Paradise” project will serve to continue their work rather than begin it. Therefore, less funding will be required to implement the project.
The first step to create a “Fishing Paradise” is to increase fish stocks. To breed them, the Ministry of Environment has pledged to appropriate as much funding as scientists' recommendations say is necessary to satisfy the requirements of fishermen. Preliminary funding for raising fish stocks in these municipalities will be 300,000 LT a year. Much will also be done to protect these fish stocks. The Ministry of Environment has pledged to provide additional funding for this objective as well.
Both of the chosen municipalities will work on tourism infrastructure development and marketing. The project is being actively supported by local communities, businessmen, and anyone who uses fishing areas. These municipalities are also among the nation's leaders in rural tourism homesteads. Many of these homesteads intend to develop there services to fishermen by renting boats and fishing equipment and offering the services of fishing guides.
According to Vice-minister of Environment Linas Jonauskas, it is hoped that the “Fishing Paradise” project will become a fishing hotspot not just in Lithuania, but internationally as well. The project will encourage local rural inhabitants to engage in small business as well. If the project is successful, more contracts might be signed as well with municipalities that were not chosen but are determined to spend both money and effort on raising their fish stocks and developing their fishing-related services.
Public Information Division