Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth has urged Welsh Government to act once more to secure the long-term future of the Prince Madog Research Vessel, as it could conduct vital research for years to come to the benefit of Wales.
Mr ap Iorwerth has campaigned for some time to have the Prince Madog secured as Wales’ National Research Vessel, as its future beyond 2021 is uncertain, due to Bangor University’s lease with P&O Maritime for use of the vessel expiring next year.
The vessel, moored in Porthaethwy, can help conduct vital research, which is why the Ynys Môn AM campaigned for two years to have Welsh Government commission the Prince Madog for research projects. As a result, in August 2019 a contract was signed for Welsh Government to utilise the ship for 100 days’ work to fulfil its marine and fisheries evidence requirements.
This has secured the vessel’s future in the short term, but in a question to the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, this week, Rhun ap Iorwerth urged Welsh Government to act to secure the vessel’s long-term future and avoid this vital asset being lost.
Mr ap Iorwerth said:
“I am very grateful for the Government’s response when I did draw Ministers’ attention to the risk that the capacity of the Prince Madog to do marine research work could be lost because of the concerns about the future of the vessel, which is moored in Menai Bridge in my constituency.
“That 100 days’ work certainly has been crucial in terms of ensuring the future of the vessel in the short term, but I would like to draw the First Minister’s attention to the fact that 2021 isn’t very far away now, and that we now need to work in order to secure the long-term future.
“I appeal for a pledge from Government to commit to having negotiations on extending that contract, securing ecological, energy and food research that could be crucial for years to come. The clock is ticking and Government has a crucial role to play in securing the vessel’s long-term future.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford responded:
“May I thank Rhun ap Iorwerth for that question, and thank him for the information that he gave us back in 2019 about the future of the Prince Madog?
“The contract that we have at present—we are just in the first quarter of the contract. I hear what Rhun ap Iorwerth is saying about the ticking clock, and I am certain that people at the university will acknowledge the fact that we have worked closer with them.
“We wish to continue with that collaboration and we want to jointly plan with them a service that will help us all in Wales towards 2021 and beyond.”