EUROPE’S biggest marine and workboat exhibition has been put off until 2021 after organisers found it impossible to commit to a new date this year.

Seawork had been due to take place at Southampton's Mayflower Park this week.

It attracted around 7,700 people to the city last year.

Organiser Mercator Media had said it was doing all it could to line up a new date this year.

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But it has now put the main Seawork show and its sister event the Marine and Coastal Civil Engineering Expo (M&CCE) back until June 15-17, 2021, while its Speed&Seawork event will take place on June 14, 2021.

Andrew Webster, chief executive of Mercator Media, said: “Given the restrictions on travel and the effects that social distancing requirements will have on the operation of the exhibition, the team at Mercator Media has been examining alternatives and seeking the opinion of clients.

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“There is also the added uncertainty surrounding further possible government actions and restrictions, both here in the UK and abroad. We would all prefer that this was not the case, but in the circumstances, we believe rescheduling to 2021 is now the best option for exhibitors and visitors.

“Seawork is a face-to-face exhibition where people meet to discuss new ideas and solutions for their commercial marine businesses and activities. Meeting up with client networks and making new ones is a key reason to attend. For the rest of 2020, it is evident that exhibitors and visitors may be less willing to attend, currently have serious concerns about travel and may feel that their safety could be compromised.

“While many of our clients depend on Seawork for their business, we are very conscious of the resource and time commitment that is involved and do not wish to produce a less than satisfactory compromise.”

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He said his company would be making improvements to the year-round services it offered exhibitors.

He added: “Exhibitors, delegates and visitors return to Seawork again and again, and we are conscious that there will be real disappointment at people not being able to exhibit and attend in 2020. Everyone on the Seawork team is sorry not to be meeting up with clients and visitors in person at Seawork this year.”