HC Deb 27 July 1998 vol 317 cc77-8W
Mr. Edwards

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the future of the fisheries research laboratory at Conwy. [53227]

Dr. John Cunningham

The laboratory at Conwy is part of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), an Executive Agency of MAFF. Consistent with the Agency's obligation to provide an efficient and effective scientific service, CEFAS has been reviewing the future requirements for this laboratory. Conwy is the smallest CEFAS laboratory and currently has spare capacity. The Agency has explored whether it is realistic for this to be taken up by new work or whether it would be more efficient to relocate the existing functions to another CEFAS site.

The review has concluded that, in the interests of adapting CEFAS's structure to the longer term needs of its customers in an increasingly competitive market, the programme of work currently carried out at Conwy should be transferred to other CEFAS sites. As a result, the Agency plans to vacate the Conwy laboratory by March 2000. It is intended to move the shellfish and fish cultivation work programme and the majority of staff presently based at Conwy to the CEFAS Weymouth laboratory, and the work on coastal zone management and

the environmental effects of fishing to the Agency's laboratory at Lowestoft. CEFAS has initiated a resettlement programme that will allow as many as possible of the science specialists at Conwy to continue their work at the new locations. Redundancies will be kept to a minimum. Recognising local concerns, in disposing of the Conwy site we will be sympathetic to bids that propose to make use of the facilities to support the Welsh fishing industry.

The consolidation of work at CEFAS's laboratories at Weymouth and Lowestoft will improve the utilisation of existing facilities. It will enable the Agency to provide a more cost effective service to its customers and enhance its position as a world leader in the areas of environment, fisheries and aquaculture science.

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