They offered to swim with dolphins in the Mediterranean, an activity now prohibited. Prosecuted for “disturbance of a protected species”, three companies on the Côte d’Azur and their operators, specialists in sea excursions, were sentenced on Thursday to fines ranging from 4,500 to 13,500 euros. The confiscation of their boats and three-month suspended prison sentences, required by the prosecution during a hearing on December 14, were however not ordered by the Grasse criminal court.
“We welcome this judgment which reinforces our actions in favor of the biodiversity of the Mediterranean”, reacted after the announcement of the deliberation France Nature Environnement (FNE), which had constituted a civil party.
“These species are under increasing pressure and are frequently disturbed in their natural environment. The Mediterranean coast is already strongly impacted by the many pleasure boats in the summer period, which generate risks of collisions and noise pollution”, added this federation of associations for the protection of nature and the environment. The condemned companies will also have to pay him 4,500 euros, for damages.
A ministerial decree of 2021
For 300 euros, per person and for a day, these three structures based in Mandelieu-la-Napoule and Antibes (Alpes-Maritimes) offered to jump into the water, in the open sea, with mask and snorkel, in the middle of the cetaceans previously spotted from the air. However, since a ministerial decree of 2021, it is forbidden to approach within 100 m of a dolphin and even more to swim with this animal. Boats were sometimes within 5 m of these delphinids.
“It is not the boats that come to the dolphins, but the dolphins which have always come to meet the boats”, had defended himself, taken up by his colleagues, Martial Fremont, at the head of one of the companies prosecuted , during the hearing. “The wake of boats attracts dolphins like a power line attracts swallows,” he also assured.
“The argument does not lack audacity when one knows [qu’ils] called on the services of a plane, flying at water level to spot cetaceans, supports the FNE in a press release. They would also put on music to attract pilot whales and perform maneuvers to entice dolphins to play in the waves.”