HRH The Prince of Wales visited Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences on July 5 to open Marine Centre Wales. The Prince took the opportunity to visit the R.V. Prince Madog, the largest university research vessel in the UK.
Labs where seawater is on tap!
HRH The Prince of Wales has officially opened the University’s new Marine Centre Wales. Built at a cost of £5.5M, Marine Centre Wales is a national facility for the growing marine sector in Wales. The Centre provides a focus and access to expertise and a collaborative space for researchers, commercial operators, and agencies in the Welsh marine sector.
The Marine Centre Wales houses up to 50 staff, with space for visitors from collaborating organisations and companies. The newly constructed building provides a home for the University’s Centre for Applied Marine Sciences as well as vital project development space, enabling companies accessing university scientific expertise to work alongside academics, and have access to lab facilities and aquaria – which all have Menai Strait seawater on tap – and access to a fleet of research vessels including the RV Prince Madog.
The building has been designed to make the best use of space, minimise energy consumption, and provide natural light and scenic views of the Menai Strait. It was financed as a part of the £25 million SEACAMS project, part funded through the European Research Development Fund (ERDF).
Collaborating and supporting industry
The main focus of activities within the building is collaboration with the commercial marine sector. The Centre’s aim is to speed the transfer of new knowledge and to encourage commercial growth. The Centre works on projects gathering evidence which inform environmental policies for governments and agencies. Linking research, commercial development, and government policy is important where both commercial opportunities and the legislative framework are rapidly developing.
Professor Colin Jago, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at Bangor University explains:
“Much of the Centre’s work focuses on research to support and advise regarding a range of marine renewable energy developments. Research is required both to assist with siting of new marine energy projects and to advise on what effects they may have on the wider environment.
“Consideration of the environmental impacts of engineering installations is important and challenging as the installations have a long operational lifetime of decades, or even a century in the case of tidal lagoons. These are the time scales of climate change which makes prediction of environmental impacts more difficult.”
Experts based in Marine Centre Wales also work with companies and with agencies and governments to provide advice and information in order to maintain sustainable fisheries, including aquaculture, in the Irish Sea. The School’s expertise is sought further afield, and experts are involved in a major partnership with Qatar University to study threatened coastal and offshore habitats in the Arabian Gulf, with support from the Qatar National Research Foundation, in conservation in the Chagos Marine Reserve in the Indian Ocean – the largest such reserve in the world – and in the Arctic Ocean where climate change is fundamentally changing the circulation of the ocean with potential major impacts on weather patterns.
Vice Chancellor of Bangor University Professor John G Hughes said:
“We’re honoured to have The Prince of Wales open our Marine Centre Wales. Our work here contributes to a strong and healthy marine economy for Wales and makes a significant contribution to sustainable Welsh fisheries and a sustainable marine environment.”