France has banned the breeding of killer whales and dolphins in captivity.
Campaigners hope the move will eventually bring an end to shows involving the marine animals.
The government has also banned the captivity of all whales, dolphins and porpoises, except for orcas and bottlenose dolphins.
The new rules also ban direct contact between the animals and the public and require pools holding the animals to be made significantly larger.
Aquariums and water parks have six months to comply to the rules, and must expand their pools within three years.
It comes after SeaWorld announced the last birth of a killer whale at its theme park after it decided to stop breeding orcas following animal rights protests.
It has also said it is phasing out its orca shows after years of criticism, but activists remain unconvinced as its theme parks in San Antonio, Texas and Orlando are not expected to end the shows until 2019.
French environment minister Segolene Royal signed a version of the bill on Wednesday, but decided the rules needed to be “more radical” after learning “some animals were drugged” in aquariums, her ministry told AFP.
In a joint statement, five conservation groups hailed the ban as a “historic French advance” which could mean the end of “breeding, exchange and import programmes”.
Jon Kershaw, the head of the Marineland Antibes park in the French Riviera, told local media the ban was a “bombshell” for businesses like his.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies