the Council of State seized to decipher the skills

Can the Southern Province legally harvest and euthanize sharks? The Council of State was seized by the Administrative Court of Appeal of Paris, on a request from EPLP.



New episode in the showdown between the Southern Province, the environmental associations EPLP and Sea Shepherd, concerning the capture and euthanasia of sharks.

In a decision rendered on March 17, the Paris Administrative Court of Appeal seized the Council of State. It considers that the EPLP’s appeal, which attacks the decision of the Southern Province to harvest the sharks, raises a new question of law, on the competences of the Southern Province in the matter.

It was in June 2020, after the attack of a windsurfer on the Ricaudy reef, that the southern province issued a decree allowing the capture and euthanasia of tiger and bulldog sharks. A decision, challenged by the association Ensemble Pour La Planète, dismissed for the first time by the administrative court, on March 11, 2021. This time, it is the administrative court of Appeal seized, which looked into the question. If it has not yet ruled on the merits, it has canceled the judgment of first instance.

“The plaintiffs, by exposing that measures for the destruction of individuals of a marine species likely to move over great distances, such as sharks, could fall within the jurisdiction of both New Caledonia and that of the provinces, raised a question of distribution of competence never settled by case law and not devoid of seriousness, given the general obligation to protect the marine environment incumbent on New Caledonia and the provinces under the Constitution and international commitments entered into by France”specifies the Administrative Court of Appeal of Paris, in its decision of March 17th.

“The administrative court thus disregarded its office, and the impugned judgment, tainted with irregularity, must therefore be annulled”.

Was the President of the Southern Province therefore able, legally, to take these measures for the removal and euthanasia of sharks? Or was it a government competence?

The court took a “stay of proceedings”, i.e. a postponement of the judgment pending the response of the Council of State. “It follows that it is necessary to stay ruling on the conclusions of the association Ensemble Pour La Planète until the notification of the opinion of the Council of State or, failing that, until expiry of the three-month period provided for in article 205 of the organic law of March 19, 1999”can we read in the decision of the Administrative Court of Appeal of Paris.

The question is posed, as it stands, to the Council of State: “With regard to the rules of competence determined by articles 20, 22 (10°) and 46 of the organic law of March 19, 1999, are the provinces competent and, if necessary, under what conditions, in terms of the destruction of individuals belonging to protected marine species likely to move indiscriminately in the exclusive economic zone and in the waters of the territorial sea? ».

The highest court has three months to send an opinion to the Court on the matter.

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