Alberni Aquarium faces closure over cash crunch

Alberni Aquarium faces closure over cash crunch
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WatchA catch and release aquarium that highlights the wild fish of our waters is in danger of closing in the Alberni Valley due to a funding crunch. As Skye Ryan reports, after teaching thousands of people about native species, The Alberni Aquarium is desperately trying to raise funds to stay open. 

Anxiety is running high in the Alberni Aquarium. The catch and release aquarium and marine stewardship centre is struggling to stay afloat.

“It’s very serious,” said Alberni Aquarium staff member Coby Felsman Jr.

“We were notified that we have around a month to two months to get our financial situation together or else we will end up closing.”

The non-profit aquarium was opened four years ago to educate and promote conservation.

The aquarium has local species, including wolf eels, anemones, sea stars,  for tourists and locals to see.

“Yeah most people don’t know what type of fish we have locally,” said Alberni Aquarium staff member Colton Nelson.

“And I think it’s a good education.”

But staff say it’s clear that not enough people knew the aquarium was here.

“A lot of people will come in still and say they had no idea the aquarium was down here,” said Felsman Jr.

“If it does close I think it would be a huge loss for everything down here,” said the owner of neighbouring All Mex’d Up Taco Shop, Matt Dunk.

“I definitely think it’s going to be a huge impact on us just having that down here for the families,” said Dunk.

So local businesses are joining forces with the Alberni Aquarium to fundraise to save it.

“I’m so surprised how many people have said we don’t want this place to close down,” said Nelson.

A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help and more fundraisers are being planned, as the non-profit races to make enough money. The GoFundMe goal is $30,000 for the aquarium to stay open.

The Alberni Aquarium and Stewardship Centre is at 5440 Argyle St Unit 7 in Port Alberni.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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