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Volume 402: debated on Thursday 3 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she is taking to promote research and development in aquaculture. [106808]

The LINK Aquaculture programme, launched in 1996 and sponsored by Defra, SEERAD and the National Environment Research Council contributed approximately £5.3 million to thirty-seven R and D projects, which, together with industry match funding, created an R and D programme valued at approximately £10 million. The Defra contribution to this was £2.2 million. This highly successful programme which comes to an end this year has been subject to comprehensive independent review, see the Defra website ('s average current annual spend on research into sustainable aquaculture and fish/shellfish health issues is £1.75 million. In 2002 Defra provisionally set aside £1 million for funding finfish and shellfish aquaculture research jointly with industry and with other sponsors over the next five years. My officials are giving careful consideration to the priority research areas which the various sectors of the industry identified and discussed with sponsors at a recent meeting of the UK-wide Committee for Aquaculture Research and Development.