European Small Islands Federation

Archive for Agriculture and aquaculture

Hellenic Small Islands Network


Greek nature is abundant and rich, as reflected in the variety of local crops and goods produced on the small Greek islands. Their agro-food items —although produced in limited quantities— are distinguished by their high quality. These superior products can therefore be included in gourmet categories. Realistically, production and sales of local agro-grain products from many small Greek Islands have the potential for further development.

The Hellenic Network of Small Islands – HSIN – has begun to track local products of the small islands. Their goal is to map and promote local products to enhance our islands’ profile and to increase public awareness of the valuable resources our islands produce.

The transfer of know-how from other national or European regions —with similarly successful examples— is vital in the effort to in facilitate the selection of the right processes needed to strengthen the agro-food market sector.

The social economy of the small islands is crucial to this endeavor. HSIN has researched and conducted studies on this significant subject including: study of the institutional framework of social enterprises; microcredit development study for women; microcredit business office operating plan; social economy guide; social economy study; promotion of corporate social responsibility and sponsoring the social economy in island regions; planning study and monitoring system organization; study for the development and promotion of financial instruments with particular emphasis on microcredit; study recording business operations and third sector bodies in island regions; study for the creation of an observation center for the monitoring and recording of the social economy sector in the island regions; study for the creation of an island network – a social economy observation centre; organization of workshops on specialized topics for potential and existing entrepreneurs; training of potential and existing entrepreneurs etc. It is an implementation of one of the largest projects in the Equal development partnership, called Telemachos.

Another important factor for the agro-food chain of the smaller islands, is the development of production infrastructure, and packaging and sales to markets beyond the island. Today, in some small islands, production and distribution is still in its infancy and the involvement of the state should be apparent, lasting and supportive.


The Hellenic Small Island Network is a Non-Profit organization with members comprised mainly of island municipalities with a population of less than 5,000.

It was founded in 2007 and operates throughout Greece (North Aegean, South Aegean, Ionian, Argosaronic, Sporades islands etc).

The mission of HSIN is to develop the human and social resources of the islands. To this end, HSIN seeks to support the societies and municipalities of the small islands in all matters relating to their development, including Greek administration and the European Union.

HSIN are members of:

The Island Policy Council, which is under the authority of the Prime Minister

The Pan-European Federation of Small Island Networks.

The Yacht Transport Council

The Project Management Team of the General Secretariat of the Aegean and Island Policy

The Bureau of the Council of Social Control of ERT (Greek Radio Broadcasting)

HSIN is a member of the Monitoring Committees NSRF 2007-2013 in the Regions of North Aegean, South Aegean, Ionian, Peloponnese and Western Greece. HSIN participates in the consultation of the New NSRF 2001-4-2020 as a social partner and member of the Monitoring Committees for the Ionian Region.

HSIN has implemented European programs, participated in legislative discussions in Parliament, and have shown our continuous presence since the Council’s founding. At European Union level, it has participated in actions and consultations concerning the small islands and have excellent cooperation with all the coordinating bodies of the European Commission and European Parliament.

HSIN is a registered member of the EU Transparency Register. Its delegations have often participated in various activities (conferences, seminars or meetings) in Brussels and continue to be a member – observer of key European bodies supporting island policy. It is an institutional interlocutor with the European Commission of Insular and Coastal Areas, Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions.

And, as the readers of this blog are well aware of. HSIN has the Vice-Presidency of ESIN – the European Federation of Small Islands, through its president Eleftherios Kechagioglou.


Scottish Nightmare

The main concern for the Scottish islands is how to manage the move away from the EU Cohesion Policy and its associated structural funds and how to safeguard the islands’ fragile economy and avoid the threat of depopulation. 
Island agriculture and infrastructure are particularly at risk. Most of the agricultural activity in the Scottish Islands centres around the production of sheep and cattle. The UK sheep industry is totally dependent on export, with something like 60% of UK lamb exported predominately to Europe. The nightmare situation for Scottish beef and lamb producers is that they have to compete with no support against subsidised European producers, with diminished access to the common market (possible imposed tariff of 20% depending on options). If this is the result of Brexit, it will decimate Scottish agriculture, let alone people trying to farm on the islands.
Without EU funding to support improvements, what will happen? Without pressure and funding from the EU, the outer isles of Orkney and elsewhere in Scotland will be left to decline, with the rate of depopulation increasing on all but the largest isles.

Zero Waste Island Food

Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron is a small town and a commune in the middle of l’île d’Oléron off the coast of France in the Bay of Bisacy. Sébastien and Sarah opened their restaurant ”l’île aux Papilles” in 2016 just off the pedestrian street in Saint-Pierre. Their only local, seasonal and 100% bio products to produce amazingly good food.

They have their own 10 waste commandments which is much appreciated by ESIN’s friends at the Zero Waste France organisation, see

May we add that the chicken ravioli and the cold courgette soup with garlic are exquisite?

And yes, for a true island-lover we have regretfully to report that, since 1966, there is a bridge to the 174 km2 sized island.

Ten keys to local management of natural resources


In Sweden, previous attempts to decentralize natural resource management have partly failed because of opposition from the authorities. The chairman of the Swedish small islands association Bengt Almkvist (who is also chairman of ESIN) has, together with other stakeholders, written a much noticed article in one of Sweden’s biggest newspapers. They have identified ten key policy measures to strengthen the local government:

  1. Support decentralized management: previous attempts have partly failed because of opposition from the authorities. Hence the need for clearer directives and regulations from the government to the provincial governments and the local players.
  2. The vital biological diversity that exists in Sweden has been shaped by people’s cultivation of natural resources. We must recognize the importance of reindeer and pasture farmers and of small-scale fishermen.
  3. Develop a comprehensive rural development policy.
  4. Make natural resource management part of the climate transition.
  5. Develop the skills of the county administrative boards. Research has shown that previous initiatives did not yield the desired effect, partly because of resistance from the authorities to use the new knowledge.
  6. Integrate local management and green infrastructure: there is a need for better planning of the landscape and its resources named by various terms, such as the ecosystem approach, regional landscape strategies and most recently green infrastructure.
  7. Evaluate and research: we need an independent investigation of the effects of the government’s work for the local administration. Research is also needed to develop models of local governance.
  8. Population and Nature Conferences are important platforms for knowledge sharing and dialogue between the local community level and politicians.
  9. Create a permanent hub for local and traditional knowledge: continuous, long-term efforts to integrate different kinds of knowledge, perspectives and values in the management structure.
  10. Refund from natural resources: wind, hydro, mining and forestry are some examples of areas that should be analyzed in order to develop national guidelines for optimized resource management. This may involve reallocating some national taxation powers to the municipal / local level, the reversal of the natural resource fees and improved opportunities for participation. This could involve the development of incentives for greater democracy, greater commitment, better conservation and generally improved opportunities for rural development.

Invitation to a water saving project


As reported here on the ESIN blog in February, the Koster islands have a “water problem [that] puts an end to everything”.

To solve this problem, a project is describing Koster’s geophysical water resources (“the water of the island”), the human water footprint on the island (“the water of the islanders”) and way the water is distributed, how the system is managed, financed and administrated (“the water of the municipality”). The project’s website is

The project will present a three-level description of the island’s freshwater systems, and a sustainable system solution that takes all three levels into account.

Meanwhile, it is already evident that the islanders need to save water. A first water saving project will start now at the new built hotel “Kostergården”. It will monitor, in real time, how hotel guests use water for different purposes – showering, flushing the toilet, drinking etc. Each guest can follow their own consumption and the consumption of the whole hotel. They will be involved in saving water in a fun and simple way, backed up by information on the ferries, in the hotel reception and on websites. The hotel – and the island – has the ambition to be a benchmark of sustainability among large hotels on small islands.

The project is using professor Andy Bäcker as an advisor. It will by no means be penalizing or pry into people’s private life, just be smart, fun and creative, turning something repressive into something positive as for example the “Speed Camera Lottery” did.

Koster island would like to start an “island water lab” project with a handful of other small European islands to explore the possibilities of saving water, both by technical means and by changing human behaviour. Islands who are experimenting simultaneously with smart water management techniques could learn from each other and eventually show others how to save water.

Such islands would typically be under 100 km2 in (land) size, have a maximum all-year population of 1,000 people, have a scarcity of freshwater and lots of tourists.

Interested? Just comment here!

Sydkoster från Nordkoster


Baby boom island

Georg Fredrik and Jim

Rathlin Island is the only inhabited island of Northern Ireland, of particular importance for its nesting seabirds, its heathland habitats and rare nudibranchs. Four areas are designated as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (Kinramer South, Ballygill North, Ballycarry and the Rathlin coast). In addition, the offshore reefs, vegetated cliffs, sea caves and shallow covered sandbanks have been designated as an EU Special Area of Conservation. As Irish voters supported REMAIN 56 percent to 44 percent last Friday, newspapers say there is a possibility that a UK exit from the EU could provide renewed momentum for Northern Ireland to try to leave the UK and unify with the rest of Ireland.

Rathlin adopted a development strategy in 2005 with its main focus on developing a sustainable tourism, very thorough with an audit of the islands’ carrying capacity for tourism, a market overview, a survey, benchmarks including Fair Isle, Gigha, Papa Westray and the Faroe Islands, a SWOT, a strategy, and an action plan. It seems to be working well since Rathlin has doubled its population in ten years, from 75 residents in 2001 to 130 in 2014. An RTE radio broadcast on July 25th 2014 reports a baby boom in 2014 with five babies being born that year!

Around 40,000 people visit the island every year, mainly during the nesting seabird season. Access to and from Rathlin is reached by regular ferries from Ballycastle, though visitors must travel as pedestrians unless they intend to make an extended stay. Businesses on the island are mainly in tourism. The ferry service is the island’s biggest employer.

Recently, my brother Fredrik and his friends Jim and Georg, visited the island for the sake of the nudibranchs (shell-less marine mollusk of the order Nudibranchia; a sea slug). Fredrik is  Swedish marine biologist, Jim is a Scottish architect and fan of nudibranchs as you can see here (, Greg is  a professional diver from Scotland. Their visit was organised by Bernard Picton, a legend among nudibranchers (

Photos (courtesy Fredrik Pleijel shows the passenger and vechicle ferries, the shores with chalk and black basalt stones, brown algae, a curious seal and the nudibranchs: Jonolus cristatus, Aegires punctilucens & Flabellina lineata.


Koster islands

The Koster islands are two beautiful small islands 10 kilometers off Sweden’s Atlantic coast, close to Norway South Koster is 8, North Koster 4 square kilometres big. They are inhabited by some 300 people and separated from their mainland municipality Strömstad by a deep fjord. Summertime, there are many, many visitors to the islands resulting in freshwater problems.

The local newspaper Strömstads Tidning has just published a series of articles on the Koster islands. It started a week ago, on Thursday they wrote “The water problem puts an end to everything” and on Saturday concluded “Pleijel will solve the water problem.”

Oops. It seems I have some work to do.

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