Stop orca transfers from France to China

Image courtesy One Voice

Dolphinaria-Free Europe (DFE) members One Voice (France), have advised the coalition that the owners of Marineland, Antibes are planning to transfer the four orcas currently held at the facility to China.

Inouk, Wikie, Moana and Keijo were all born at Marineland and the plans may also involve the transfer of Inouk’s sister, Shouka (sent to Six Flags Worlds of Adventure in May 2002 then to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in April 2004 before being moved to her current location, SeaWorld San Diego in August 2012.  DFE fully supports the campaign and have written to President Macron asking him to intervene to stop the move.  We are appealing to the new owners of Parques Reunidos, who have the means to invest in the establishment of an orca sanctuary, to consider this as an alternative to moving the orcas to China.

Please support the campaign by signing the petition today and help stop this transfer, planned for January 2020.

Help stop beluga transfers from Canada to Spain

Dolphinaria-Free Europe is calling on the public to support our appeal to the Canadian Government to stop the transfer of two beluga whales from Marineland, Canada to L’Oceanogràfic, Spain.

In October, DFE contacted the then Fisheries Minister for Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, on this issue.  Mr Wilkinson had stated that when Bill S-203 went into place, there were two exemptions when it came to exporting whales from Canada (1) if it is in the best interest of the whales and (2) to conduct scientific studies/research. This being the case, the federal government had approved the transfer on the basis that L’Oceanografic was better equipped to care for the belugas and the two exemptions had been met.

DFE believes this is not the case and today, 22 November, has written to the new Fisheries Minister for Canada, Hon Bernadette Jordan, asking her to consider our concerns and to halt any permits which have been approved.

Please email Minister Bernadette Jordan, voicing your concern over the Canadian Government’s decision to allow these two belugas to be transported into the EU and request that the transfer is denied.

Background details can be found on our Beluga Import Press Release.

More porpoises for Danish facility?

The Fjord & Bælt facility in Denmark has for many years held harbour porpoises obtained via bycatch or stranding for use as part of an ongoing study programme.

The facility is authorized under license by the Danish Nature Agency to hold up to 4 harbour porpoises for study/research purposes and currently holds one female, Freja – the male Eigil having died in 2016.   Despite this facility operating under license for research, the public is able to view the porpoises being fed/trained and the animals have been allowed to breed (although none of the 4 calves born at the facility has survived.)

We understand that the facility now plans to apply to take at least two further harbour porpoises to add to their collection. DFE have written on 19 November 2019 to the Danish Minister of Environment, Lea Wermelin and also the Danish Nature Agency, requesting that in future any porpoises obtained via stranding/bycatch are not retained at Fjord & Bælt, and that the Ministry consider phasing out the keeping of harbour porpoises at the facility in favour of focusing on wild studies, such as the existing research being carried out on the wild population annually as part of Denmark’s NOVANA survey programme.

Update on beluga transfers into Spain from Canada

Image courtesy I Visser

Further to our previous report on the potential import of 2 belugas from Marineland in Ontario to L’Oceanogràfic in Valencia, Spain,  Dolphinaria-Free Europe has continued to address this issue with the relevant authorities.

Just months after the Canadian Government passed legislation prohibiting the breeding of whales and dolphins and their export for entertainment purposes, authorities in Canada have already approved the transfer, and Dolphinaria-Free Europe has today called on the Spanish CITES authorities and the Spanish Minister of the Environment to deny the import of belugas into the country.

Under EU legislation, the CITES Scientific Authority in Spain must be satisfied that the intended accommodation for the belugas be adequately equipped to conserve and care for the animals properly. Dolphinaria-Free Europe believes this is not the case at L’Oceanogràfic and will continue to address this vital issue with a view to ensuring this importation is not authorised.

A press statement to the media outlining our concern over this matter has also been circulated.


No dolphins for Tropicarium, Budapest

DFE previously reported on plans by the owner of the above aquarium to add dolphins for public display at the facility.

According to Hungarian law, the keeping of cetaceans for public display is not allowed in the country, therefore we wrote to the Minister of Agriculture requesting clarification and asking that, if the owner of Tropicarium had applied to keep dolphins, his application be denied.  We also launched our campaign asking for public support on the issue.

It has taken some time to gain a response from the Ministry however we are delighted to report that they have confirmed the law will be upheld and Tropicarium will not be allowed to display dolphins.  DFE Chair, Margaux Dodds commented, “I am delighted with this news following our appeal to the Ministry over this issue, and that the ban on the importation, transport and keeping of dolphins in captivity in Hungary still stands, ensuring the country remains free of captive cetaceans.”

Thank you to all who supported this important campaign.


Marineland, Canada to transfer two beluga whales to L’Oceanogràfic, Spain

image: Mendar Bouchali

When this transfer was first rumoured in July this year, Dolphinaria-Free Europe wrote a letter outlining our concerns to the CITES authorities in Spain and Canada, also the European Commission.  This was supported by over 20 international NGOs and scientists.  We stressed how it is increasingly well documented in the scientific literature that whales and dolphins held in captivity suffer significant and numerous health and welfare problems as a result of their confinement. We also highlighted issues relating to aggression and stress-related illnesses.

A response received from the European Commission stated that there was no obligation for Member States to submit such import applications to the Commission for scrutiny.   They went on to comment that the 2003 decision to which we referred concerned a different species of cetacean (not belugas) and did not result in an EU-wide opinion whereby future applications would have to be considered by the Commission.

Canadian Fisheries Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, who authorised the permits despite Bill S-203 having recently been passed and laws put in place in Canada on the import/export of cetaceans, justified his decision to lift the ban in this instance due to the fact that Marineland belugas are very overcrowded and that the Spanish facility is better equipped to look after the two belugas in question.  However, as the tank at L’Oceanogràfic already holds 3 belugas, one of which shows signs of extreme stereotypical behaviour, adding Marineland’ s two belugas will simply escalate any welfare issues, therefore we feel this argument is hardly justified.

DFE will continue to challenge this decision as these whales should not be allowed to be transferred into Europe.