Court overturns dolphin and whale breeding ban

A pair of orcas jumping out of the water at Marineland Antibes

France's highest administrative court rules in favour of marine park's claim that ban was imposed after 'irregular consultation process'

France’s highest administrative court has overturned a ban on breeding killer whales and dolphins in captivity.

The Conseil d'Etat annulled a ministerial decree signed shortly before the presidential election in May 2017 by then-ecology minister Ségolène Royal, due to 'irregularities' in the consultation process.

The court agreed with lawyers for popular tourist attraction Marineland Antibes, which had appealed against the decree, which claimed the decree was adopted 'following an irregular procedure [that] disproportionately infringed the principles of freedom of trade and industry'.

The rules - welcomed at the time by animal rights groups - banned the captivity of all whales, dolphins and porpoises, except for orcas and bottlenose dolphins already held in authorised aquariums.

Marineland Antibes, which describes itself as Europe's largest marine animal park, said in a statement when it launched its appeal that the decree was 'incoherent', and contained 'contradictions and inconsistencies' that would make it impossible to implement. 

It said it believes that that it would lead, 'to an alteration of the natural behaviour of animals' and diminished protection for marine life. 

The organisation said that the minister 'introduced last-minute changes in the order that upsets the economy of the park'. It claimed the decree 'distorts work and advances resulting from more than two years of concerted work by government organisations, animal and environmental protection groups and marine professionals'.


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