7 May 2021 21:48

Deaths of endangered Caspian seals could be caused by fishing - Russian Natural Resources and Environment Ministry

MOSCOW. May 7 (Interfax) - The endangered seals that washed up dead on the Russian shore of the Caspian Sea could have died because of fishing nets, the Russian Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in a statement posted on Telegram on Friday.

"Most likely, the seals got caught in fishing nets. Once that happened, most of the animals were skinned and dumped into the sea," the statement said.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Alexander Kozlov is personally monitoring the situation, it said.

"This situation is outrageous. The population of a rare animal has been endangered. Why? Because somebody has been catching sprat on their migration path and tried to cover their tracks with poaching," Kozlov was quoted in the statement as saying.

Records, photos, and GPS coordinates of each of the 170 young animals found dead on the Caspian seashore have been directed to the environmental prosecution service and the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor).

Coordinator of nature conservancy projects at the Marine Mammal scientific expedition center Viktor Nikiforov told Interfax on May 6 that over 150 Caspian seals had been found dead on the Caspian seashore over the past two days. He said it was an international problem.

The Caspian seal has been designated as an endangered species. The only marine mammal that lives in the Caspian Sea has found itself on the brink of extinction after a long period of harvesting.