By Michel Bernouin
ANTIBES, France (Reuters) - A French marine park plans to fight a newly introduced ban on breeding killer whales and dolphins in captivity, saying that putting it into practice could be cruel.
The ban was announced last week as part of government attempts to improve the living conditions of captive marine mammals in marine parks.
It mirrors a move in California to outlaw breeding of killer whales and which was aimed at bringing an end to the practice of holding the creatures in tanks for human entertainment.
Jon Kershaw, Wildlife Director at Antibes' Marineland in southern France, told Reuters TV that the new law communicated by the environment ministry on Saturday could hurt the animals.
"To impose this law, and I am talking about imposing, on the animals, we will have to put them under stress. We will separate them. We will give them chemical treatments for fear of them reproducing. I am sure that this will have an effect on the animals' life expectancy, so it's not normal, it's not logical to establish on the one hand a decree made for protecting animals, and on the other hand harming them like that. I don't understand," he said.
He said he intended to fight against implementation of the law, first by establishing what legal action can be taken and by launching petitions.
French activist Caroline Camus of 'Sans Voix PACA,' an organisation in the Provence, Alpes Cote d'Azur (PACA) region whose name translates as 'Those without a voice', disagrees with Kershaw.
She said the new law was a good way to bring this type of captivity to an end and explore releasing some remaining captive dolphins into the Mediterranean Sea.
"There are huge possibilities," she said.
According to activists at uk.whales.org, there are around 3,000 whales and dolphins held in aquariums, zoos and marine parks globally.
(This story refiles to fix garble in paragraph three.)
(Writing by Andrew Callus; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Hugh Lawson)