Recently, the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament closed, definitively, the petition initiated by Mathew Spiegel and Ingrid Visser (Free Morgan Foundation), with which they tried to prove that the CITES permit of the orca Morgan was being used incorrectly.
In 2015, the Free Morgan Foundation (FMF) began an action by sending letters to different CITES authorities accusing Loro Parque and its experts of ignoring the law or breaking it voluntarily. According to the FMF, Morgan’s CITES permit had been issued for scientific use and that prevented any other use of Morgan – educational, reproductive, etc. When the Free Morgan Foundation began to receive letters from the various CITES authorities saying that they were wrong and that Loro Parque was correctly interpreting the CITES permit, instead of acknowledging its error, it chose to hide those responses and continue its reckless campaign. The response from the Spanish CITES authority was very clear and surely that is why they kept it hidden “There is no limitation on breeding for Morgan”.
In the Netherlands, the FMF were insistent with the Dutch CITES authorities after they rejected its interpretation on two occasions. So in 2017, it decided to initiate an administrative dispute against the Dutch government. Last year, the Dutch judiciary told the FMF again that it was wrong and, instead of admitting that they were wrong, they appealed the ruling, so there will be an appeal hearing at the end of May this year.
But the Free Morgan Foundation’s obsession went further, and in 2018 they petitioned the European Parliament to change the CITES forms used throughout the European Union, arguing that Morgan’s case proved that they did not conform to the rules. As early as June last year, the European Commission replied that this request was unfounded and that there were no reasons to change the form, as it complied with CITES regulations. However, unfortunately, a lack of quorum in the Commission meant that the petition remained open and more information was requested from both CITES Spain and the European Commission.
The reply sent by the Spanish CITES authority to the Committee on Petitions was overwhelming: in relation to Morgan’s legal situation “No incorrectness has been detected either in the content of the certificate or in the application of Regulation (EC) 338/97”. And further, “Loro Parque meets the requirements of both adequate facilities for the maintenance of the specimen and the conditions indicated in the certificate of community use”. As for the European Commission’s reply, it was equally forceful “The petitioners say that Morgan’s case is only an example to illustrate more general problems with the certificate … but they have not provided evidence of any other case”. They conclude “The petitioners have not provided any evidence of significant structural problems in the application of the rules in force”.