Continued irregularities with regard to dolphin transfers between Member States


18 December 2013   

Isabella Lövin (Verts/ALE)

In 2010 11 bottlenose dolphins were transferred from the Lithuanian Sea Museum to Attica Zoological Park in Greece, while the dolphinarium in Lithuania underwent refurbishment. The animals began performing in shows in Greece’s new dolphinarium, although the zoo had no planning permission for its new facility and permission had not been granted by the Greek authorities for the dolphins to enter the country. Furthermore, animal performances are now banned in Greece(1). Seven dolphins from a reported 14 now held at the Attica Zoo were transferred back to Lithuania in September 2013(2). The Greek authorities have confirmed that they accepted revised source codes for the dolphins for their transfer certificates to Lithuania. Since the dolphins’ arrival in Lithuania, one female has given birth, in spite of the International Air Transport Association’s live animal regulations stating that ‘heavily pregnant animals must not be carried except under exceptional circumstances’. International Air Transport Association rules for the transport of animals listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, including dolphins, must be followed for a CITES permit to be valid. Furthermore, video footage shot by a Lithuanian media outlet of the September 2013 arrival in Lithuania from Greece of the dolphins from Attica Zoological Park suggests that the animals were transported in tanks of water with two animals in each. These transport conditions also violate the IATA’s live animal regulations, which require the use of an individual transport container for each dolphin, with a canvas sling for support Transfers which do not meet these regulations are also in violation of CITES.

What action will the Commission take in response to these irregularities in dolphin trade between Greece and Lithuania?


13 March 2014


Answer given by Mr Potočnik on behalf of the Commission

The Lithuanian and Greek CITES Management Authorities have recently provided information to the Commission on the conditions under which the transfer of the seven dolphins to which the Honourable Member refers took place. According to this information, the transfer was in compliance with the standards of the International Air Transport Association, as well as with the EU legislation on the protection of animals during transport(1) and on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein(2).

(1) Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations.
(2) Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 of 9 December 1996 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein.