French Riviera: There are severe penalties for offering to swim with dolphins


The French RivieraSwimming with dolphins requires severe penalties

In France, from 2021, it is forbidden to get close to dolphins. Three companies in the south were “forced to pass” and risk seeing their boats confiscated in addition to fines.

The company’s president has sued three experts for “deceptive business practice” and “deliberate disturbance of a protected non-domestic animal species”.


Prosecuted for “disturbance of protected species”, three companies from the Côte d’Azur offered to swim with dolphins in the Mediterranean, an activity now banned, subject to heavy fines and confiscation of their boats. “It’s not the boats that come to the dolphins, but the dolphins that always come to meet the boats”, defended himself, Marcial Fremont, one of the business owners, on Wednesday evening, followed by his colleagues. The Criminal Court of Grasse in the south of France.

For 300 euros per person per day, these companies, based in Mandelieu-la-Napoule and Antibes in the Alpes-Maritimes department, offer to jump into the water in the open sea, mask and snorkel, before medium-sized cetaceans. Detected using a microlight. However, according to a 2021 ministerial decree, it is forbidden in France to approach within 100 meters of a dolphin, much less to swim with the animal.

The heads of the companies face up to two years in prison and a fine of 300,000 euros, the three experts are being prosecuted for “improper commercial practice” and “deliberate disturbance of protected non-domestic animal species”.

“Mandatory” operators

“The wake of the boats attracts the dolphins like swallowing a power line,” promises Marcial Fremont, who presents himself as a “nature guide since 2005.” “When we know that these companies are using airplanes to find dolphins, it’s very difficult for me to hear that,” said Isabelle Vergneux, a lawyer for France’s natural environment association, responding to the origin of the complaint and “who the defendants are trying to protect.” To drown the fish”.

“The wake of the boats attracts the dolphins like a power line being swallowed.”

Marshall Fremont, the boss of one of the accused companies

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), most of the 21 species of cetaceans living in the Mediterranean Sea are classified as “endangered”, particularly due to encounters with over-zealous tourists or collisions with ships. The public prosecutor, who said the operators were “informed” of the ban but “carried out in action”, demanded a three-month suspended prison sentence, a fine of between 5,000 and 18,000 euros and confiscation of the boats.

The decision was adjourned to January 26.


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