There was clear support for the Ozeanium in the cantonal parliament, with only the Green Alliance opposing its adoption. Fondation Franz Weber, with the support of TIR, Animal Rights Switzerland, OceanCare, and the Greenpeace Regional Group Basel, is initiating the referendum in view of this disappointing and, considering the consequences, devastating result. The citizens of Basel will decide on this costly, energy intensive and, in terms of animal welfare, highly questionable project.
An aquarium the size of the Ozeanium planned by the Basel Zoo is extremely problematic both in terms of animal welfare law as well as species conservation law and environmental protection. Only 1 to 10% of the animals and plants kept in saltwater aquariums can be bred in captivity. Less than 1% of the animals used this way are actually bred because capturing them in the wild is still cheaper and easier. Moreover, the animals are caught, transported and treated using exceedingly questionable methods. On average, 4 out of 5 fish die before they arrive at their destined aquarium because of inhumane catching methods and poor transport conditions.
Today, more than 60% of the world's coral reefs are in immediate danger, with demand for aquarium fish playing a major role. Since almost none of the species concerned are protected, no internationally binding regulations and registration requirements are in place, and inspections provided for by the exporting countries are virtually non-existent, there is no transparency regarding the number and type of organisms captured. This makes it impossible to sustainably catch saltwater aquarium fish.