A Queensland exporter sent 30 sharks to a French aquarium. They all died

Cairns Marine had not received any more orders from the aquarium and while it would be up to the federal government to approve such a request, the company would reserve the right to make its own judgment call.

“At the end of the day it is a transaction between us and them and we would reserve the right to make a call on that if we were not satisfied ourselves,” he said.

The French arm of conservation group Sea Shepherd launched legal action against the aquarium claiming the sharks were mistreated over an eight-year period in captivity.

Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd France, said the organisation was accusing Nausicaa of breaching the law by not making sure the babies were in a safe situation.

“They’ve put them together and as a result, they killed each other,” she said in a statement.

“We must make sure Nausicaa, nor any other aquarium, is not allowed to capture vulnerable species in their natural habitat.”

She called on the Australian government to stop the capture and trade of fragile species.

Mr Donnelly said the sharks were caught in an approved fishery area around the reef and were in “premium condition” before leaving.

“The heath of the animals is looked at every step of the way,” he said.

“I don’t know what became of the animals or why – what’s happened is bloody dreadful.”

They were about 70 centimetres long when caught and were stabilised in the Cairns facility before being exported at 90 centimetres.

The sharks were flown to a transhipping company in Amsterdam and then sent to the aquarium.

Queensland Environment Minister Mark Furner said permission for live exports was a matter for the federal government.

“Animal welfare issues in other countries are a matter for the authorities in those countries,” he said.

The federal environment department has been contacted for comment.

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