Governance & Structure

Governance and Structure

Free Morgan Foundation (FMF) was formed 26 August 2011 in the municipality of Zeist, Netherlands.

The FMF is registered with the Dutch KvK (Chamber of Commerce) No. 53471067.
Mailing address: Bosweg 14 • 6523 NM Nijmegen • The Netherlands
Email: info (at)

The FMF is governed by a board of five directors.
The directors for 2021 are:

Dr. Ingrid Visser (NZ and NL), Chair and Scientific Advisor
Hester Bartels (NL), Vice Chair
Heiko Grimm (DE), Treasurer
Matthew Spiegl (US), Secretary and Legal Counsel
Terry Hardie (NZ, USA and ZA), Information Technology

Goals and Objectives of the Free Morgan Foundation

  • The rescue, rehabilitation and release of the wild-born orca named Morgan into a sea sanctuary.
  • The rescue, rehabilitation and release of cetaceans in distress.
  • The establishment of a natural ocean sanctuary for orca in captivity to be retired.
  • Promote education, research and conservation of cetaceans and their natural habitats.
  • Advocate against keeping cetaceans in captivity for public performances.
  • Advocate against the captive breeding of cetaceans for commercial purposes.
  • Advocate for laws and regulations recognizing wild cetaceans held in captive facilities as “res nullius“, which the state has a duty to protect from exploitation.
  • Engage with government officials, elected politicians and other NGOs and individuals engaged in animal welfare and cetacean captivity issues to achieve the objectives.

Work Carried Out by the FMF to Achieve Its Goals

The following is a short list of some of the work carried out by FMF (past and current);

  • The FMF collaborates with other NGOs and organizations involved with animal welfare and cetacean captivity issues.
  • The FMF is a founding and active member of Dolphinaria-Free Europe (DFE), a coalition of NGOs and professionals working together to end the keeping of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in captivity, in Europe.
  • Individual board members represent the FMF on the DFE management committee.
  • Individual board members represent the FMF and serve as members of the advisory board for The Whale Sanctuary Project in Canada.
  • An Individual board member serves as a member of the advisory board for the Norwegian OneWhale Reserve Project.
  • FMF board members utilize their expertise to consult and advise researchers, journalists, documentary film makers, political leaders and legal professionals on issues concerning keeping cetaceans in captivity.
  • FMF board members individually and jointly publish peer reviewed articles about Morgan’s case in scientific and legal journals.
  • The FMF has submitted agenda items for inclusion in the CITES CoP17.
  • The FMF has petitioned EU Parliament twice (0853/2017 and 1566/2020) and submitted a complaint to the European Ombudsman (18/2020/PB with a request for review 251/2020/DL) concerning policy issues and enforcement of existing EU law and regulations which are directly applicable to Morgan’s transfer to Loro Parque and her public display and breeding by Loro Parque.
  • Individual board members have been involved with the Argentinean, Australian, Canadian, French, New Zealand, Russia and USA Government’s moves to update and change legislation to better protect (and/or ban) cetaceans in captivity.
  • Individual board members have been involved in a number of court cases regarding the keeping of cetaceans in captivity.
  • Individual board members have presented at a range of conferences, symposiums, workshops etc regarding orca Morgan’s welfare issues and the issues surrounding the keeping of cetaceans in captivity in the EU.

Generation of Revenue

Donations from members of the public made through PayPal; GoFundMe donation campaigns are occasionally used to fund a specific expense and private benefactors also support the work of the FMF trough periodic anonymous donations.  Micro-donations are made by the public via a ‘donate’ button on the FMF website.

General Expenditures

Retention of legal counsel in the Netherlands to pursue administrative and Court cases against the Dutch Government concerning the orca Morgan’s transfer to Loro Parque in Spain.

Translation services Dutch/English of official Dutch Government and Court documents and proceedings so the public can stay informed.

Incidental travel expenses associated with board members attending court hearings in the Netherlands and Committee hearings at the EU Parliament.

Incidental travel expenses associated with board members attending various conferences, workshops and other events addressing orca Morgan’s welfare issues and the issues surrounding the keeping of cetaceans in captivity in the EU.

Printing of banners, printed fliers, stickers and other paraphernalia to increase awareness of FMF and Morgan’s situation.

Entry fee’s for International Film Festivals for the short-film ‘I am Morgan: Stolen Freedom’.

Miscellaneous operating expenses such as purchase of printer/scanner to facilitate filing and distribution of documents electronically; purchase of webcams board member to enable participation in foundation board meetings being conducted on-line because of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions.

Annual membership fee for the foundation’s involvement in Dolphinaria-Free Europe (DFE).

Accumulation of sufficient funds to consult with legal counsel in Spain about possible legal action to protect orca Morgan’s welfare and ensure compliance with EU law and regulations and maintain ability to finance legal fees and court costs when action is initiated in Spain. It should be noted that the Dutch Courts and Dutch Government have both directed the foundation to bring a legal action in Spain as the appropriate venue for addressing orca Morgan’s welfare issues.

Remuneration and Reimbursement Policy

The FMF board members do not receive any monetary compensation for their service on the board. The FMF has no paid staff members and regularly utilizes volunteers to assist with projects.

Individual board members may make a request to the full board for reimbursement for necessary and incidental expenses incurred while carrying out their official duties in furtherance of the objectives of the FMF, subject to approval by majority vote of the board.

Reimbursement for Webcams:
Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic (2020 – 2021), FMF board members have remained actively engaged in collaborative on-line video conferencing meetings and symposiums to advance the objectives of the FMF. To facilitate and maintain a professional presence on platforms including Zoom, Skype, Teams and Webex, the FMF board voted to authorize the purchase of full HD webcams for board members.

Reimbursement for Professional License:
FMF board member Spiegl serves as both secretary of the board and legal counsel for the FMF. Board member Spiegl devotes all his legal work on behalf of Morgan and the FMF on a Pro Bono basis. In exchange for thousands of hours of exclusive legal services, the FMF board has authorized payment of legal counsel Spiegl’s annual bar dues (license to practice law).

Reimbursement for Professional Memberships/Conferences/Seminars:
Individual board members may, from time to time, request reimbursement for membership fees for professional organizations and/or attendance at seminars and conferences associated with furthering the objectives of the FMF. All such requests are subject to approval by a majority vote of the FMF board.

Significant Accomplishments and Activity Report

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic the public engagement activities and events of the foundation have been severely curtailed for the years 2020 and 2021. Some of the more significant activities of the past few years (pre-Covid and current) are described below:

  • Publication of “Wildlife Conservation and Public Relations: The Greenwashing of Marine Mammal Captivity.” Visser, Barefoot and Spiegl (2021) in book chapter Contributions to the Global Management and Conservation of Marine Mammals. (Editora Artemis 2021)
  • Interviewed by, consulted with and provided documents to journalist Jos van Dongen for production of two-part Zembla television program about Morgan. (Netherlands, October 2021).
  • Interviewed by, consulted with and provided documents to journalist Johannes Boehme for his article about Morgan “Und was will der Wal?” (And what does the whale want?), published in ZEIT Magazin (10 December 2020).
  • European Ombudsman Complaint 18/2020/PB
  • European Ombudsman Request for Review 251/2020/DL
  • Petition to European Parliament 1566/2020
  • Publication of “Mission creep in the application of wildlife law: The progressive dilution of legal requirements regarding a wild‐born orca kept for ‘research’ purposes.” Spiegl, Trouwborst and Visser (2019) in Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law (RECIEL) [Recognized by Wiley (publisher) as top downloaded and one of the most read papers in RECIEL for 2018-2019.].
  • Publication of “The harmful effects of captivity and chronic stress on the well-being of orcas (Orcinus orca)”. Marino L., Rose N.A., Visser I.N., Rally H.D., Ferdowsian H.R. & Slootsky V. (2019). Journal of Veterinary Behavior. 35:69-82.
  • Attendance at 2nd World Marine Mammal Conference, 9-12 December, Barcelona, Spain and publication of “The harmful effects of captivity and chronic stress on the well-being of orcas. Marino L., Rose N.A., Visser I.N., Ferdowsian H.R. & Slootsky V. (2019).
  • Utrecht District Court and Raad van State hearings/rulings (various years, most recent 2019).
  • Consultation with international documentary production company regarding feature film exposing the issues of cetaceans in captivity (2019) (project delayed due to Covid-19).
  • Speakers at Superpod Symposium, 6, July 16-20 (2018). “Government-fueled tragedy & Morgan update.” Visser and Spiegl. Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands, Washington, USA.
  • Publication of “Morgan’s Law: A legal prophylactic to compassionately protect rescued cetaceans.” Spiegl M.V. & Visser I.N. (2017) in Compassionate Conservation Conference; 22-24 November 2017; Blue Mountains, Sydney, Australia.
  • Petition to European Parliament 0853/
  • Request withdrawal of Morgan’s EU certificate (2016).