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Hundreds protest against closure of Buchanhaven Aquarium

A rare blue lobster was one of the popular exhibits at the Buchanhaven Aquarium
A rare blue lobster was one of the popular exhibits at the Buchanhaven Aquarium

Hundreds of people are fighting to save Buchanhaven Aquarium amid plans to close the attraction – which managers say “died a death” following an initial flurry of interest when it opened.

Members of the Buchanhaven Harbour charity will meet on Friday to make a final decision on the fate of the facility along the shore in the north of Peterhead.

The attraction opened in June 2018 after mammoth community efforts to bring the ambitious £9,000 project to fruition.

The 10ft aquarium at the port was created to entertain and educate families across the region by bringing the sea life right to their door.

However, the facility has remained closed since October 2019 due to the pandemic.

One of the fish in the tank when it opened in 2018

And there are now fears that reopening the aquarium would be a “massive financial burden” and a “big drainage on manpower”, which would prove detrimental to the charity’s resources in the long run.

Buchanhaven Harbour chairman, Alex Donaldson, said the board has been open to any proposals to keep the aquarium open, but there haven’t been any worthwhile business plans put forward yet.

Now, board trustees have been presented with a document listing all the pros and cons of keeping the attraction ahead of the meeting tomorrow.

The 10ft aquarium is often used by local schools and nurseries for educational purposes.

Mr Donaldson said: “We are seriously considering not reopening the fish tank, because it’s a massive financial burden and a big drainage on manpower.

“It had a lot of fanfare when it first opened, but after that it just died a death.

“To get it back up and running will cost between £600 and £2,000, and this would be a big strain on the charity’s finances, which are not much at the moment.

Buchanhaven Boat Shed

“At this moment, we are not planning on selling it and we would be open to donate it free of charge to any other group that would want to run it elsewhere in Peterhead.

“When we make a decision on Friday, it won’t be taken lightly and it will be done in the best interest and safety of the public and the charity.”

However, Mr Donaldson stressed Buchanhaven Boat Shed, which homes the large fish tank, will be unaffected by any decision made and would continue to be used as a community space for socialising and educational purposes.

Displays like this proved popular with youngsters

Community efforts to keep the “special attraction”

Since the idea of permanently closing the aquarium first started circulating, Peterhead residents have launched a petition in an effort to save the “special attraction”.

In just three days, nearly 300 people have joined the fight to preserve the facility, which has been hailed as a fantastic educational and cultural community resource.

Former committee members Arthur James (left) and George Cameron (right) were among the team members to get the Buchanhaven Boat Shed up and running in 2018.

It is currently the only attraction of the sort in Peterhead, with the closest alternative being in Macduff – 38 miles away.

One of the petitioners, 37-year-old Alison McLennan, said permanently closing the aquarium would be a devastating loss for local children.

She said: “It would be an absolute shame, because it was something for the kids to look forward to, especially after the pandemic.

“My son and I were regularly there, because it’s a great free attraction that doesn’t require us to take two or three buses to get there.

“I think the main point is that there is nothing else like this in Peterhead and for some it’s actually the only opportunity to visit such a place and learn about the marine life, when they can’t go to Macduff or Edinburgh.

“It was really popular when it opened and I think a lot of the community will do whatever they can to help save the aquarium.”

Mother-of-two Sonya Cordiner also backed the petition, saying the aquarium is a great attraction for the whole community to enjoy.

The 46-year-old said: “It’s the only aquarium we have locally and it’s very popular with school and nursery children, who use it for educational purposes.

“It’s also the only thing that is suitable for all kids, because some disabled children can’t go to the rocks or the sand to see the sea side in such way.

“It took a lot of public funding to get it up and running in the first place and it really brought people together.”

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