From Dive Magazine:
One of the world’s most prestigious underwater film and photography festivals has been slammed for its decision to hold its 2007 event at a theme park where orcas and dolphins are kept in captivity. The Antibes Festival Mondial De L’Image Sous-Marine, widely regarded as the Oscars of underwater photography and film, will take place at Marineland in the South of France between 24 and 28 October.
The festival, which is now in its 34th year, has provided a platform for features heavily supporting marine conservation efforts. However, Marineland runs daily performance shows in which captive dolphins and orcas are forced to perform tricks to entertain visitors – something widely criticised by conservationists.
‘We are very disappointed this has been chosen as a site to hold the Antibes underwater image festival,’ Cathy Williamson, captivity programme manager of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society told DIVE. ‘The festival should be promoting conservation and animal welfare. Marineland holds animals in captivity for entertainment. Keeping whales and dolphins in captivity does not serve any sound educational, scientific or conservation purpose. The arguments against the confinement of cetaceans are so overwhelming, that any proposal to keep them captive, for whatever reason, should be rejected on animal welfare grounds alone.’
Until last year the festival had been held at the convention centre in Juan-les-Pins, Antibes, and funded by the local authority. The centre was closed for refurbishment last year, however, and organisers looked for a low-cost alternative, such as Marineland.
There are reports of photographers pulling out of the 2007 Antibes underwater image festival. Festival-goers are being offered free passes to see orca and dolphin performances, which Marineland claims to ‘present a genuine slice of life’ of killer whales.
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