The first stage of new-look harbour

An artist's impression of how the laboratory, aquarium and offices will look on the south pier at Bridlington Harbour
An artist's impression of how the laboratory, aquarium and offices will look on the south pier at Bridlington Harbour

A new aquarium and laboratory are set to open in Bridlington before the end of the year - the first stage of a huge transformation of the harbour area.

With the multi-million marina project closer than ever and design work already underway, plans have been unveiled for a separate development on the south pier.

Bridlington harbour

Bridlington harbour

Fishing industry leaders want to further boost Bridlington’s reputation as the leading shellfish port in Europe, by making it a centre of excellence for research with a state-of-the-art laboratory - and the Free Press can show you an artist’s impression of the scheme.

Mike Cohen, chief executive of the Holderness Fishing Industry Group, said: “It is hugely exciting for us. We have been working towards this for six years, putting everything in place and the time is now right.

“I can’t wait to get started. As soon as we get planning permission, we want to start building and we want to be up and running before the end of the year.

“We have spent a lot of time raising funds and working on the logistics but we have got there. It’s a big deal for us.

Mike Cohen at Bridlington Harbour

Mike Cohen at Bridlington Harbour

“People can see a value in investing in the town. There is a long and prosperous future for this part of town.”

The research will shed new light on the life cycle of lobsters, which are worth several millions of pounds to the Bridlington economy, and members of the public will be able to see the work which is going on from a first-floor viewing platform.

Mr Cohen said: “We have a research programme at sea, looking at shellfish stocks. Records show we have been fishing sustainably for 300 years and we want to make sure it keeps going.

“There are limitations to what we can achieve from our research boat. When lobsters hatch out from their eggs, they are so so small and transparent, they just float around with plankton, before they settle on the sea bed and burrow into the sand.

“If something is affecting the population, we aren’t going to know about it until they are big enough to catch three or four years down the line.

“With a hatchery on land, we can see what affects lobsters in the early stages of their life cycle.

“This sort of facility doesn’t exist around here and to be owned and operated by a fishermen’s group, it will be absolutely unique.”

The new laboratory will welcome school groups, to help youngsters learn about the work that goes on at sea, and there are plans to form links with universities.

However, Mr Cohen said: “It isn’t a tourist attraction, there isn’t space for that and the expense of running something like that is something we can’t maintain.

“It would be lovely to have something to show people more in the future, but we are hoping to have displays outside and a video screen in the windows showing films.”

A planning application has been submitted to East Riding of Yorkshire Council by Bridlington Harbour Commissioners, on behalf of HFIG.

It says: “The design has been both sympathetic and synergetic with the existing structure without detracting from the visual character of the building or the harbour.

“The space will support four full-time employees and a small number of community volunteers to engage with the visiting public.

“Viewing windows along the face of the proposed laboratory will allow the visiting public to observe the scientific work taking place from the existing public

right-of-way passing in front of the site.

“The space will attract money to the area through externally funded research projects related to supporting the local fishing community in maintaining a sustainable industry. It will also serve as a hub for commercial harbour users.”