Lowestoft Laboratory

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Lowestoft Laboratory

In 1902, the Marine Biological Association opened a sub-station in Pakefield a suburb of Lowestoft, Suffolk to research the Fishing industry. This was part of the UK contribution to the newly created International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. By 1921 the station had been expanded to include a laboratory with experimental facilities. Early research was focused on aspects of the marine biology of the North Sea. During the 20s and 30s biological studies expanded, the theory of fishing was developed and forecasting fish stocks became a routine. After the second world war, radiobiological facilities were installed to advise on the safe disposal of radioactive substances at sea. Research aboard the newly acquired Arctic-going Research Vessel Ernest Holt established an important link between fishable cod concentrations and water temperatures and identified cod migration routes. The migration routes of plaice stocks were identified and the deterioration in the North Sea herring fishery was investigated. From this ground-breaking work came theories of fishing and fish population trends that have become international recognised. The laboratory moved to its current site on the cliffs in the Kirkley area 1955. The site was expanded in the 60s and 80s to meet the needs of emerging work programmes monitoring the quality of the marine environment. Although the period 1964–1982 probably saw the fullest flowering of fisheries research, per se, at Lowestoft, the increasing awareness of both politicians and the public about the importance of maintaining the quality of the marine environment, meant that an increasing proportion of the work programme of that period was devoted to problems associated with investigating both radioactive and non-radioactive contamination at sea.