Plans for an aquarium in berlin: reef for rummelsburg

An investor wants to build an aquarium and park in Rummelsburg Bay for 40 million euros. Local residents criticize the plans.

Will he soon be swimming in the in Coral World in Rummelsburg Bay? Photo: dpa

A large aquarium and park are to be built at Rummelsburg Lake in Lichtenberg. District Mayor Michael Grunst (Left) and the Israeli investor of the company Coral World signed a corresponding contract on Friday, as the district announced.

The site on Paul-und-Paula-Ufer on the western shore of the bay is currently wasteland. By 2019, a publicly accessible park is to be built here, with water and plant gardens, playgrounds, sunbathing lawns and terraces. In a so-called water house, visitors will be able to marvel at marine animals such as sharks, rays and corals. Petting pools are also planned, and dives will also be offered. The house will charge admission; according to the district’s announcement, 500,000 visitors are expected to come each year.

A water house for science

Investor Benjamin Kuhn studied marine biology and has already built similar water worlds in Israel, Australia and Hawaii. In Berlin, he says he wants to invest 40 million euros for the house and the park. He says Coral World Berlin will not only attract visitors, but will also be used for scientific congresses and research projects. The facility should serve to "sensitize people to the uniqueness and worthiness of protection of the oceans," said Erez Ben-Nun, vice president of Coral World International, according to the district release.

Residents have been opposing the plans for some time, with two petitions totaling about 5,000 signatures criticizing the construction project. The property is the last area in Rummelsburg Bay that is close to nature, Florian Hackenberger, one of the initiators of the protest, told the taz on Friday. "Open spaces and nature in the city are necessary for a happy and self-determined life. That should not be sacrificed to short-term interests."

Hackenberger spontaneously organized a demonstration against the aquarium on Friday, which he said was attended by a good two dozen people. He plans to continue opposing the plans, he said, criticizing the fact that the public has not been sufficiently involved in the plans.

In fact, a draft of the development plan shows that numerous citizens had opposed the district’s plan. Among other things, they demanded that cultural open spaces and public open spaces be preserved. Numerous residents also expressed ecological concerns. Very few of these objections were taken into account by the district, as the documents show.

Rummelsburger See is simply regarded as a "toxic hole" by local residents

In addition, Lake Rummelsburg is known to be ecologically problematic. It is simply called a "poison hole" by local residents. The lake’s water is so polluted that not only direct contact with the water is hazardous to health, according to the Berlin Waterways Authority. It even warns against "permanent residence" in a boat on the lake.

Neither district mayor Grunst nor the lawyer and project director of Coral World Berlin could be reached for a statement, despite several requests from taz.

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