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Marine research ship comes home

31st March 2003


A 24m marine-research ship is due at her home port of Lowestoft today.

One of the aims of the vessel, belonging to the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), is to shed light on why fish stocks are declining.

It will be the first time Cefas Endeavour has sailed into Lowestoft and her arrival, scheduled for 8am, marks 101 years since fishing research began in the town.

The vessel has seven laboratories, 19 scientists and 16 crew. She will be based at Lowestoft and replaces the 32-year-old research ship Cirolana.

Cefas Endeavour is expected to help shape Government policies aimed at creating a sustainable fishing industry by playing a leading role in the monitoring of sealife.

The ship will be officially named at a ceremony in June.

Fisheries minister Elliot Morley said the arrival of the vessel marked "a very important advance for fisheries research which began in Lowestoft in 1902". He added: "It shows the Government's determination to ensure that sustainability is at the centre of fisheries and marine environmental policy now and for future generations."

One of the first jobs will be a scientific study of how fish species prey on others.

This should help provide advice on fishing mesh sizes and the number of small fish that are needed to ensure the sustainability of larger predators such as cod and haddock.

The ship is designed to minimise underwater noise and draws heavily on stealth technology.

It has sonar and echo equipment, reducing the risk of detection by fish being monitored or sampled, and maximising the accuracy of data.

Cefas Endeavour will also conduct seabed mapping and environmental and fish-stock monitoring.

The ship will work all around the UK coast.

Peter Greig Smith, Cefas chief executive, said: "This vessel will give us important new scientific capabilities. It will enable us to provide the scientific evidence on which Government policies are based."

Cefas Endeavour will carry out a range of scientific activities including plankton sampling, deployment and recovery of seabed monitors, physical and chemical oceanographic observations, and sediment sampling.

Dynamic positioning is used to control the ship's position and precision during research operations. Computer networks will gather and distribute the data collected.

Built by Ferguson Shipbuilders of Glasgow, Cefas Endeavour was launched last August.