In the first decade of June, the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan (MEGNR RK) received the results on a survey of dead seals found on the Kazakhstani coast of the Northern Caspian near the Karazhanbas Oil Field in April 2022. Following a discussion attended by scientists from the Institute of Hydrobiology and Ecology, Research and Production Center for Microbiology and Virology, the Kazakhstan Agency of Applied Ecology, as well as representatives of the Fisheries Committee of MEGPR RK, the Department of Ecology of Mangystau Region, territorial divisions of the Committee of Veterinary Control and Supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan, MEGPR RK has prepared a conclusion.
MEGPR RK informs that the exact causes for the mass mortality of Caspian seals could not be clarified due to the decomposition of carcasses. Possible reasons for the death of animals, according to scientists and competent government authorities, could be the following: the exhaustion of newborn puppies due to their removal on ice to the open sea; freezing puppies after getting into water; by-catch of adult seals in fishing nets, injuring seals by propellers of cruising vessels. Representatives of scientific organizations and interested state bodies also came to a consensus that the dredging works being carried out in the Caspian Sea did not have a direct impact on seals and could not be a possible cause for their death.
Due to the fact that the Caspian seal is a transboundary species, the Plan of Joint Actions of Russia and Kazakhstan to Conserve the Caspian Seal Population for 2021–2026 was signed at XVII Forum of Interregional Cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan in September, 2021.
MEGNR RK notes that the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took personal control over the solution to the problem of reducing the Caspian seal population. MEGNR RK is currently working on the issue of creating a specially protected area to preserve the habitats of the Caspian seal. Specialists have started developing an appropriate scientific justification.
In addition, the Caspian seal was included in the List of Rare and Endangered Species of Animals of the Republic of Kazakhstan (the Red Book of Kazakhstan) in 2020. In accordance with the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, illegal usage of rare and endangered species of animals is punishable a fine of up to 3,000 MCI (monthly calculation index; from April 1, 2022, 1 MCI is 3,180 tenge – Kaspika’s note) or restriction of liberty for up to 3 years. MEGNR RK Press Service informs on that the relevant materials on dead seals, which were found on the Kazakhstani coast of the Caspian Sea this spring, have been submitted to the Police Department of Mangystau Region for taking procedural measures.