Clacton Pier's SeaQuarium is set to close for good next month after bosses were faced with having to move it to enable it to meet new standards.

Despite a glowing report from a government vet at its last inspection, pier bosses said the costs of complying with new rules for zoos and other wildlife attractions would have been too great.

The aquarium - which has been around for 40 years - is home to about 600 fish and sea creatures. It will now be replaced with a new venture.

Its licence was up for renewal again next Easter and the pier said it was faced with a difficult decision about whether to move it - which would have involved significant extra investment - or close it permanently.

Director Billy Ball said there had been some form of wildlife on the pier since the 1930s - with whales, dolphins, sea lions and penguins among the draws over the years.

“If it was to remain, we would have also wanted to look to come up with more conservation activities and that was simply not viable,” he explained.

“We are now in a very different world with emphasis on protecting the environment quite rightly gaining greater priority.

“All things considered – including overheads and the rising cost of energy - we decided it was time to close that chapter in the pier’s history and move forward.”

The seaquarium is home to smooth hound sharks, red-bellied piranha, clown fish, terrapins, turtles as well as many other species of fish. Work is already under way to find new locations for them.

Talks are taking place with the attraction’s vet to ensure the task was carried out with all the necessary procedures, the pier said.

It has notified Tendring District Council that it will be surrendering its licence - which involved having to meet the same rules and regulations as zoos such as Colchester, it said.

This will be the last month that visitors will have the chance to enjoy the seaquarium as a suitable replacement attraction is sought.

“We have exciting concepts in the pipeline, and we will be making an announcement later in the year,” said Mr Ball.

Clacton Pier was built in 1871 and draws almost one million visitors a year.