Exploris aquarium urged to keep fish off its menu

Exploris is currently closed for refurbishment
Exploris is currently closed for refurbishment

An animal rights group has called for Ards Council staff to ensure the new cafe at the Exploris aquarium is a “seafood-free zone”.

A statement from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has called on “policymakers at the Exploris aquarium” not to offer “visitors dead fish at the café” which “would contradict the aquarium’s invitation to the public to appreciate the wonder of living fish”.

“Experts agree that fish are sensitive, interesting animals who feel pain and have complex social structures,” it added.

“No one – particularly a facility that is supposed to promote respect for sea life – needs to put them on the menu.”

PETA said they had sent a letter stating their position to the Co Down aquarium.

However, a spokesman for Ards Council said they had not received a letter from animal rights group.

The council spokesman said: “Exploris aquarium is currently closed for refurbishment and the cafe is subsequently closed.

“Catering arrangements for the revitalised facility are yet to be determined though there are no specific plans to serve fish.”

Exploris, which is Northern Ireland’s only aquarium, sits on the shores of a marine nature reserve and in an area of special scientific interest, Strangford Lough.

In July last year it was saved from closure after £900,000 of funding was secured to keep the Portaferry tourist attraction open.

Finances for Exploris – which was under threat since 2013 – were secured after an agreement from the Executive.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said the centre would be updated with the new funding.