“All necessary measures” will be taken to assure the safety of exhibitors and visitors attending the Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Europe event in Brussels next month, the show organizer announced following attacks by terrorists on March 22 that killed 34 people and injured at least 270 more at Brussels National Airport and in the metro system at Maalbeek.
“Diversified Communications and the entire Seafood Expo Global staff extend their deepest sympathy to the people affected by the recent tragedy in Brussels,” said Liz Plizga, the trade fair company’s group vice president. “The safety of our participants is of the utmost importance and we are taking all necessary measures to ensure a safe environment during the upcoming exposition. For the past six months, we have been working on a very detailed security plan in cooperation with the City of Brussels, Brussels Expo and the Belgian authorities. In light of events, Belgium has issued a Level 4 alert, and Diversified Communications is reviewing the appropriate protocols with the city and the Belgian authorities.”
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist militant group claimed responsibility for the bombings, which took place four days after the capture of Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the Paris terror attacks of November 13, 2015. That slaughter, which left 130 people dead and 368 wounded or injured, was the deadliest attack on France since World War II.
As this story was being filed on March 23, the capital city of Belgium and de facto capital of the European Union remained tense with the highest possible threat level in effect and armed security forces standing guard at a number of high profile locations, including a neighborhood where many EU offices and headquarters are based. Brussels National Airport at Zaventem, quickly evacuated after two deadly blasts on Tuesday, was still closed along with several metro stations.
The international airport, which typically accommodates more than 600 flights on a daily basis, posted the following statement at its website on March 23: “Following these attacks, there will be no passenger flights into and out of Brussels Airport today and tomorrow (March 24). Because the forensic investigation is still under way, we currently have no access to the building. Until we can assess the damage, it remains unclear when we can resume operations.”
After the announcement of a three-day period of mourning in Belgium, and a call for the world to stand together against terrorists, Prime Minister Charles Michel commented: “I would like to say to those who have decided to become barbaric enemies of democracy and fundamental liberties that we, together with the people, will take action to protect our liberties and our way of living. We want to do whatever we can to return to a normal life, while waging a common battle in facing the tragic events that have befallen us.”
Speaking in solidarity with the people of Belgium and urging vigilance and tougher controls of the EU’s external borders, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated: “It’s a war that terrorism has declared not only on Belgium, France and Europe, but on the world.”
The Show Must Go On, Safely
Meanwhile, Diversified Communications will post updates on ongoing plans to bolster security measures during the April 26-28 show at its website: SeafoodExpo.com/global.
The annual trade fair, formerly known as the European Seafood Exposition, is the world’s largest B2B gathering for the international marine products supply and equipment sector. Last year it featured 36,063 square meters of exhibition space visited by 26,652 seafood industry professionals and decision-makers from 144 countries. The event is held at the Brussels Expo, which is approximately nine miles west of the airport and five miles north of the city center.
In the immediate wake of the March 22 terror bombings, the fairgrounds management was forced to cancel three events: PRS Europe, Autotechnica, Infosecurity and Forum for the Future.
A post at its website stated: “Deeply shocked by these attacks, Brussels Expo’s heart goes out to the victims and their relatives.” The announcement was headlined by a quote from the works Chilean poet-diplomat Pablo Nédura: “You can crush the flowers, but you can’t stop the spring.” – Reported by John Saulnier