Iran asks Russia for clarification on death of Caspian seals

May 16, 2021 - 19:31

TEHRAN – The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is negotiating with Russia to officially receive clarification on the death of 170 Caspian seals which found dead on the shores of the Republic of Dagestan in early May.

“We are pursuing the cause of the seals’ death, holding talks with Russia through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the Department of Environment (DOE) deputy chief for marine ecosystems, Davood Mirshekar, said, IRNA reported.

He expressed hope that Russia would provide a proper response sooner.

Mirshekar also announced the development of a national action plan to protect the endangered Caspian seal.

The National Action Plan is carried out under the supervision of the DOE with the cooperation of non-governmental organizations and all responsible bodies, he further stated.

Pointing to empowering non-governmental organizations for the endangered Caspian seal protection, he stated that a center called the Caspian Seal Rescue Center is active not only nationally but also at the regional scale, and its activities include coordinating the region to protect Caspian seals.

Holding workshops and training courses for different target communities, including students, experts, administrators, military and law enforcement agencies, as well as creating alternative livelihoods to protect Caspian seals and empower housewives in the Caspian Basin are also on the agenda, he explained.

Caspian seal, the sole marine mammal inhabiting the Caspian Sea, is endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), as recently demonstrated to have declined by more than 90 percent since the start of the 20th century.

According to the latest census conducted in 2016, the population of Caspian seals has reached less than 70,000; while their population once stood at about one million in the country.

The oil spill, industrial waste as well as heavy metals, agricultural pesticides, radioactive waste, wastewater, and household waste entering the sea, and noise pollution caused by oil and gas refineries, and excessive boat traffic have pushed the species toward extinction through poisoning them.

Caspian seals population shrinking alarmingly

Amir Shirazi, a representative of the Caspian seal medical and research center in Iran, told IRNA in December 2019 that despite the sharp decline in this endangered population, hunting and exploitation of seals in Russia continues to be a serious problem that needs to be tackled.

The population of the valuable species in the Iranian part of the Caspian Sea has also fallen sharply, which is mainly caused by being caught in the fisherman's net, he lamented.

Due to the occupation of the Caspian coastline in Iran by government agencies and individuals constructing villas and settlements, the Caspian seals can only rest on small parts of the shores of Miankaleh Wildlife Refuge and Ashuradeh Island if there are no fishermen, he lamented.

Caspian seals included on CMS

Caspian seals are included in Appendices I and II of the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

As per Appendix I of the Convention, poaching and illegal fishing activities are banned to save the animals from extinction, while Iran has not had a share in illegal fishing of the species since the very beginning, she concluded.

Over the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CMS COP12) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), administered by UN Environment on October 28, 2017, Caspian seals were included on Appendices I and II of the Convention.

According to the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals Website, Appendix I comprises migratory species that have been assessed as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range.

Appendix II covers migratory species that have unfavorable conservation status and that require international agreements for their conservation and management, as well as those that have a conservation status that would significantly benefit from the international cooperation that could be achieved by an international agreement.


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