HC Deb 24 July 1979 vol 971 cc219-20W
Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are his plans for maintaining the fight against the growth of Japanese seaweed along the South Coast.

Mr. Monro

It is unlikely that sargussum muticum (Japanese seaweed) will be eradicated from our coasts, and will probably continue to spread. Since regrettably the weed is inevitably to be a part of our marine flora, it must be a part of the appropriate local authority's responsibilities to take such annual measures as are necessary to deal with the problem in its area. The Department none the less agreed to co-ordinate and finance study into the biology and spread of the weed and to seek means of biological control. We also agreed to co-ordinate and partly finance the development of the most effective mechanical means of clearance in order to assist local authorities to deal as economically as possible with weed control of a new type.

Although there are few signs that the biological research project will produce any dramatic breakthrough, it is at present expected that its activities will be continued until at least 1982, and will continue thereafter as long as there is any prospect of the project producing valuable results.

The mechanical and hand clearance project is much further advanced. Advice on the best methods of hand clearance is now available. A successful trawl has been developed which can be operated from fairly standard boats, and for difficult areas of growth a special boat and methods of operating have been evolved. Work on a suction and cutting device, for areas where trawling is not fully effective, is well advanced. This project will cease once development has been completed.

Information and expert advice arising from these projects continue to be fully available to local authorities.