Defra appoints new chief exec to marine science agency

Neil Hornby joins from within the department
Photo: Bytemarks/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has named a veteran civil servant as the head of its marine science research agency.

Neil Hornby, Defra’s marine and fisheries director, has moved to become chief executive of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. He will be responsible for leading the agency’s work as it provides science and evidence to support the delivery of the government’s marine environment, fisheries and animal-health objectives.

Among other things, Cefas has been supporting Defra with scientific evidence during Brexit and the transition period, and is looking at “greening” the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Hornby succeeds Tom Karsten, who retired last summer after five years in the role. Tim Green, a chartered accountant and Cefas’s finance director, has been standing in as interim chief exec since June.

Hornby has been a civil servant for more than two decades, spending the last eight years in director and deputy director roles at Defra, since it was set up in 2012. Previously he was deputy director at the Office for Nuclear Development in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Defra’s predecessor department.

“I know the quality of the work that Cefas does and believe passionately in the power of science for good, to drive real change based on evidence and expertise,” Hornby said.

“Cefas science and analysis is highly valued in the UK government and around the world. As the UK takes on responsibility for managing our own fisheries and seeks to lead the world in protecting and enhancing the marine environment, I want Cefas to be at the centre of this, providing advice and evidence to meet the challenges our seas and aquatic environments face.”

David Hill, Defra’s director general for environment, rural and marine said Hornby brings a "wealth of experience in marine and fisheries to the role, and will provide great leadership to Cefas’ mission to deliver the highest quality marine science".

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