HRH The Princess Royal visits newly refurbished Cefas laboratory to mark over 120 years of marine science in Lowestoft

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HRH The Princess Royal visited the newly developed and refurbished Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) HQ building and laboratories today (29 March). Her visit commemorated Cefas’ longstanding commitment to marine science in Lowestoft and marked the formal opening of the new HQ building.

For over 120 years, Cefas has been at the forefront of marine science research, playing a critical role in advancing our understanding of the marine environment. During her visit, The Princess Royal met a range of Cefas colleagues to gain insights into Cefas’ work. From scientists specialising in fisheries, marine climate change, pollution, and emergency response; to staff who were pivotal in delivering the new building programme.

The Princess Royal learned about a range of Cefas science during her tour. She viewed data gathering equipment used on vessel work around the UK, including the North Sea, and the UK Overseas Territories; toured the microscopy suite; listened to presentations on fisheries through the ages and spoke to scientists about their research on marine climate change, pollution and biodiversity.

Following The Princess Royal’s visit, Cefas CEO, Neil Hornby said: “Today is a proud day in Cefas’s history. We are delighted that Her Royal Highness has been able to join us in our new building.

“Cefas’s roots in Lowestoft date back to 1902, when a small fisheries laboratory was first established. Reaching this important 120 year milestone has been an opportunity to reflect on our rich history, but also to plan for a future where our unique science expertise continues to support healthy and productive rivers, seas and the ocean in the UK and around the world.”

During the visit, The Princess Royal signed a visitors’ book, next to her father’s signature, HRH The late Duke of Edinburgh, who visited the Lowestoft Laboratory in 1956. The tour concluded with The Princess Royal unveiling a commemorative plaque to formally open the new HQ building, delayed due to the COVID pandemic.

The official opening of the new building follows a £16 million pound investment programme with funding from Defra and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership. This secures a long-term future for Cefas in Lowestoft bringing employment, training opportunities, and wider economic benefits.

Cefas’s Kelly Baker, who project managed the major refurbishment, added: “Given our history in Lowestoft there has been great interest from our local community in the works. One of the most rewarding outcomes from the project has been landscaping our cliff-top gardens and opening a permissive footpath that runs through our grounds. There will be improved public access to the cliffs and we’re working with the Promoting Pakefield Group to develop information boards next to the path that celebrate our history.”

Today’s visit from The Princess Royal was an excellent opportunity to celebrate the completion of the major refurbishment and to highlight Cefas’ long-standing commitment to marine science research in Lowestoft.

Commenting on the new Cefas Headquarters’ official opening by HRH The Princess Royal today, C-J Green, Chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership said: “We celebrate this milestone as Cefas’s new HQ with high-tech facilities can support globally relevant and ground-breaking research carried out by its existing and future scientists.

“Its world-leading centres of excellence for fisheries, aquatic animal health, seafood safety and international marine climate change centre play a vital role in the planet’s sustainable blue future. We’re proud to have supported this development where fundamental scientific research takes place to improve marine management and policy globally.”

The LEP has invested £1.4 million into this development through government’s Growth Deal to help safeguard hundreds of jobs, create new jobs and apprenticeships, and contribute to wider investment plans for the area.

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