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The Biarritz city council approved the contract on 23 July 2008. Later on 26 July 2012 this approval was annulled.
The use of public-private partnership (PPP) to award projects on design, build, finance, operation and maintenance (DBFOM) basis, is legally possible in France since 17 June 2004, but the projects have to be complex or urgent. In this case, according to the decision, the project is not complex enough to be awarded through a PPP on DBFOM basis.
Additionally the project was awarded after developing feasibility studies. Therefore this project cannot be classified as urgent.
The contract to build the Sea Museum was awarded to Vinci group. The total project investment was €41 million (US$53 million): €17 million from public funds and the remaining €24 million from Vinci. The contract period is 30 years.
The project started operations on 30 June 2011. The project accumulates an annual deficit of €400,000.
The museum is noted foremost for its striking architecture and the quality of its collection within. The building was developed in 1935, in 2011 the area has doubled. Now the facilities have 25 news aquariums where there are octopus, lobsters, whale skeletons, rays, turtles, seals as well as tropical fish or hammerhead sharks.