§ Mr. Maclennan
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in re-establishing the continuous plankton recorder programme.
§ Mr. Maclean
Following the withdrawal of direct funding by the Natural Environment Research Council from the continuous plankton recorder survey, the Ministry has renewed its contract with NERC for £150,000 per annum for a further two years to safeguard the Ministry's interests in this survey as a source of valuable information relevant to our fisheries and environmental protection interests.
The Ministry has successfully persuaded the international scientific community of the value of maintaining such environmental monitoring programmes and took the lead in promoting an international funding trust to secure the future of this survey. I am pleased to report that the international response has been sufficient to enable the trust to be established so that the survey will continue. The constitution of the trust is currently being drafted.