Plastics pollution top of the agenda as The Deep hosts European conference

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Producers of artificial coral, marine salt and venom gloves are among the exhibitors at a conference which has brought leaders of Europe’s aquarium industry to Hull this week.

Top of the agenda as the European Union of Aquarium Curators (EUAC) kicked off its event yesterday [Tuesday] was plastics pollution, with delegates receiving a rallying call from an East Yorkshire schoolgirl.

Nine-year-old Lucie Parsons, from Walkington near Beverley, followed the welcome by Katy Duke, Chief Executive of The Deep, and João Falcato, President EUAC, with the first speech of the conference – and she used it to challenge the industry.

Lucie asked the audience of more than 150 people form 30 different countries: “What will you do? What will aquariums do to help? People go to aquariums to see beautiful fish but they need to know how harmful plastics are. Please, I am begging you, help me do something about this. We are the future and this is our planet.

“By the time I get to 40 there could be more plastic in the sea than there are fish. We all need to do something to stop this. The plastic we use is hurting all the sea life and I feel very upset about this.”

The conference, which last took place in the UK at London Zoo in 1990, is hosted by The Deep and will run until Thursday evening, with a sharp focus on conservation and sustainability during presentations and workshops at The Deep Business Centre and the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Hull.

In 2017 The Deep hosted the annual general meeting of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). It was chosen as the venue for the latest event by EUAC members at their 2017 conference at Burger4s’ Zoo, Arnhem in the Netherlands.

Ms Duke outlined the work of The Deep and its success as a tourist attraction and conservation centre, having attracted 7.5 million visitors since opening nearly 16 years ago.

She said: “The conference is great recognition for us professionally and a good opportunity for us to showcase the work that we do. It is also important to the region – for the majority of delegates this is their first visit to The Deep and to Yorkshire and we are generating business for hotels and restaurants.

“We asked Lucie to speak because we have done a lot of work on plastics at the Deep and that is something that unites us globally now. Aquariums have an important role to play in terms of disseminating information. Our audiences are enormous and we are a great vehicle to promote plastics awareness and start making a difference in the work that we do.”