Official Decree Would Make France Dolphinarium-Free

In 2017, France’s minister of ecology issued a decree phasing out the captive display of cetaceans through a breeding and trade ban. Decrees in France are similar to executive orders in the United States and can, under certain circumstances, carry the force of law. However, this decree was suspended soon after, under challenge from French dolphinariums. A bill to change the law was introduced in the French Parliament this past summer, but failed to pass when the current minister of ecology announced her intent to issue a new decree. This decree would go further than the previous one; it would institute a time limit to end the captive display of cetaceans altogether: two years for orcas and seven to 10 years for bottlenose dolphins (the only two species held in the country). In short, the four orcas and 27 dolphins currently displayed at three different facilities would need to be transferred out of the country within those time frames. It is presently unclear when the decree will be officially issued or where the cetaceans would go, but the ministry has indicated sanctuaries are an option being considered.