An association recently filed a complaint against the aquarium of Biarritz (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) for "illegal trade" in protected wildlife species and an investigation has been opened by the Bayonne prosecutor's office, we learned on Tuesday from the interested parties.
The Bordeaux association "Defense of aquatic environments" has launched a similar procedure against the Marineland park in Antibes (Alpes-Maritimes) and intends to target about twenty aquariums and other marine zoos in France in the coming weeks, told AFP its president, Philippe Garcia. "We want to challenge a generalized way of doing things, made possible by the French administration," he said.
"We have absolutely nothing to hide"
In its complaint filed against the Biarritz Aquarium, and against X, for acts of "concealment, use of forgery, and unauthorized use of animals of non-domestic species", the association denounces "contentious certificates" that would allow the establishment "to illegally exploit a loggerhead turtle, a green turtle and three grey seals". The investigation has been entrusted to the French Office for Biodiversity, according to the Bayonne prosecutor's office, which has been seized via its regional environmental unit.
The general manager of the Biarritz Aquarium, Marion Etcheverry, has no doubts about the "conformity of the certificates". "They are at the disposal of the courts, we have regular checks, we have absolutely nothing to hide, we don't have fun doing this kind of thing," she told AFP. The facility concentrates more than 5,000 fish and living organisms, on 7,000 m2, and has a care center for seals and sea turtles.
Shaking up the "very concept of the aquarium"
The association does not hide the fact that it wants to shake up the "very concept of the aquarium", considering that "most of the species found there should return to the wild state".
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention, regulates the border crossings of more than 38,000 animal and plant species at different levels. Thus, each individual who arrives in an aquarium is accompanied by a specific certificate, issued in France by the Regional Directorates of the Environment, Planning and Housing (Dreal).
In the Alpes-Maritimes, in addition to the management of Marineland, the complaint filed by the association also implicates an agent of the Dreal. "We have not been contacted by the authorities about this complaint and therefore have no comment to make," the school told AFP.