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  • Date :
  • 6/8/2011

Caspian Seal

part 2

cas seal

In the mid- or south-Caspian, the seals feed primarily on the “herrings” of the Caspian Sea, which includes the common kilka (Clupeonella cultiventris).

These occur in enormous shoals and are caught in great numbers by commercial fishing vessels using the latest techniques. The fishermen regard the seals as being the main cause for the decline in the harvests and, therefore, kill them whenever possible, despite their protected status since the early 1970s. This is an issue which the relevant Iranian authorities are now attempting to neutralize—as, indeed, when the population of the seals was perhaps three times their present number in the mid-1970s, the harvest of the kilka exceeded the present catch by a factor of least four! In the northern parts of the Caspian, the stomach contents of the seals have indicated that mollusks, shellfish, gobies, and sculpins (small black fish) comprise their principle diet.

It is estimated that some two-thirds of the northern ice cover of the Caspian is in Kazakh territorial waters and the remainder in that of the Russian Federation. Kazakhstan does not appear to have any plans for harvesting the seal pups.

Recognition of the perilous status of the Caspian seal was the principle reason for the creation of the Caspian Seal Conservation Network in 1997 as part of the World Bank’s developing Bioresources Network. It was formally adopted with the participation of the five littoral states in 2006. Equally, the Caspian Environment Programme (CEP) was approved at the Tehran Steering Committee meeting of the littoral states in November 2003, with the overall goal—as set forth in the Tehran Convention—of establishing procedures for the conservation, sustainable development, and management of the Caspian environment. CEP invited the Caspian International Seal Survey (CISS) team to undertake population surveys and carry out related research with the objective of developing a plan for seal conservation. CISS was established “as a collaborative network of international scientists specializing in seal ecology and conservation biology from the UK, Sweden, Estonia, and Russia, working with local partners in the Caspian countries” (CISS).

Other Links:

Geography and Nature of Iran

Geography and History, Zanjan

Persian Eagles: Part 1

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