A RESEARCH station will become a major base for studies aimed at boosting conservation of the marine environment as part of a partnership between universities and a charity. 

It is hoped the St Abbs Marine Station in Berwickshire, which houses a laboratory, 100,000-litre tank and research area for aquariums, will become a key training ground for the next generation of marine scientists. 

It is a joint project between the station, which is a registered charity funded by private donors, and Edinburgh Napier and Heriot-Watt universities, both of which are members of the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland. 

Stephen Nesbitt, chairman of the trustees of St Abbs Marine Station, said: “Building the station was a great effort involving the hard work and support of many people, not least in the local community. 

“I am now very excited to see our next aim being achieved, the realisation of marine research on a wide range of matters of scientific interest and environmental concern, focusing on the wonderful marine environment here at St Abbs and the North Sea.” 

Senior research staff from both the universities will be seconded to the marine station as part of a new reserach programme. 

Dr Karen Diele, of Edinburgh Napier, said: “The station is a jewel for scientists and students alike, and I am very much looking forward to developing ambitious and exciting research with my partners here at St Abbs. 

“Our future research programme will aim to provide the scientific basis for the conservation and sustainable use of the fascinating marine environment at our doorstep.” 

Dr Bill Sanderson, of Heriot-Watt, said: “This new centre provides a wonderful opportunity to develop the sustainable management of marine resources.

 “The generosity involved in this unusual public/private partnership will provide the capacity to deliver sustainable conservation management in a changing world, especially, we hope, to the benefit of the local community and local biodiversity.”