Fife visitor attraction in call for help during 'extremely worrying' time

Management at Deep Sea World have warned the popular visitor attraction is facing an “extremely worrying” time during the Covid-19 lockdown, with the business being forced to pay out tens of thousands of pounds a month despite being closed to the public.

Management at Deep Sea World say the visitor attraction is feeling the financial strain as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Management at Deep Sea World say the visitor attraction is feeling the financial strain as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Fife visitor attraction shut its doors last month in the wake of the outbreak, but has been unable to make use of the UK government’s furlough scheme for all its staff, as some are needed to care for its mix of sharks, seals, fish, and other marine life.

According to the management, the sea life centre in North Queensferry, the cost of providing animal food, and maintaining its network of tanks and pumps, amounts to around £90,000 a month.

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Adrian Duffey, the attraction’s general manager, said: “This is an extremely worrying time for our business – due to the nature of the work we carry out to maintain the highest of animal welfare standards, we cannot furlough all of our staff and bring in volunteers because the work that goes into running our tanks and feeding our animals is specialist work.

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“We are heading into the summer months – which would usually be our busiest time of year – and with the UK government set to outline its plans for lifting lockdown, I hope zoos and aquariums are part of that strategy, as I fear we could be the last to open, which would be to an incredible detriment to our business as we cannot afford to go into the winter months without proper support.”

The company behind the attraction has applied for a coronavirus business interruption loan, but Mr Duffey said it would mean the firm would accrue significant debt which has to be repaid over a short time period.

He added: “I hope these concerns do not fall on deaf ears and our business can continue to provide an experience of a lifetime for generations to come.”

Douglas Chapman, the SNP MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, now plans to write to the UK government urging it to provide support for zoos and aquariums.

He said: “Deep Sea World has been a staple of Fife tourism for many years and has provided a unique experience for families across Scotland.

“It is a vital service that educates children on marine life and conservation and provides a chance for them to get up close and personal with some fascinating animals.

“I welcome the UK Government’s furlough scheme, but as the situation at Deep Sea World and other businesses demonstrates, the scheme simply does not go far enough and is providing uncertainty for firms.”

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He added: “I will be writing to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and urging it to provide support for zoos and aquariums. I will also be urging the chancellor to introduce a measure to protect workers who are needed in these environments where animal welfare standards must be kept to the highest of standards.”

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