On July 03, 2022, the Secretariat of the Tehran Convention published National Report of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea for 2019-2020, prepared by Public Fund «Water Initiatives Center». The document provides an overview of the environmental legislation and program documents of Kazakhstan aimed at protecting the Caspian Sea environment, activities carried out in the country to implement the provisions of the convention and protocols ratified by Kazakhstan, an analysis of decisions taken by the Conference of the Parties to the Tehran Convention.
The report informs on measures to protect the Caspian Sea environment, which are initiated or carried out by the state bodies of Kazakhstan, oil and gas companies and other organizations operating in the Caspian Sea and the Caspian coastal zone, including: the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife, the Committee for Fisheries, the Committee for Environmental Regulation and Control and the Committee for Water Resources of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Transport Committee of the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the administrations of Atyrau and Mangistau regions, Kazhydromet RSE, North Caspian Operating Company N.V. (NCOC), National company “KazMunayGaz” JSC and others.
The review of environmental legislation and program documents of Kazakhstan covers regulatory legal acts, including the Environmental Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, laws, decrees of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and decrees of the government of the country, as well as decisions, statements of ministers of Kazakhstan, program documents, agreements with the Caspian countries aimed at implementing the Tehran Convention.
Part 2 “Overview of activities aimed at implementing the provisions of the Tehran Convention and its Protocols” sets out the provisions of the Environmental Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which provide for the protection of the Caspian seal and its habitats. In particular, when carrying out exploration, production of hydrocarbons, seismic exploration and other geophysical work at sea, the following requirements must be met:
– Before the start of oil production, at the expense of the financial resources of the subsoil user, comprehensive programs for environmental protection should be provided, including measures for the protection of spawning grounds and the reproduction of valuable commercial fish, as well as the habitat of seals in the state protected area in the northern part of the Caspian Sea;
– In order to preserve the Caspian seal population, seismic work and other economic activities in the period from October to May are corrected by diverting seismic profiles at a distance of at least one nautical mile from the places of seals concentration on island and ice haul-outs. To identify places of high concentration of seals, given the frequent moving of their haul-out sites, preliminary air overflights should be provided;
– At the stage of detailed design and during the organization of work, the timetable for the seasons should be determined and the routes of ships should be indicated on cartographic materials. When choosing travel routes, hydrometeorological conditions, including ice conditions, as well as the Caspian seal haul-out sites should be taken into account;
– In order to preserve the Caspian seal population, oil operations from October to May should be carried out at a distance of no closer than 1852 meters (1 nautical mile) from the places of their concentration. Taking into account the frequent moving of their haul-out sites, all possible measures should be taken to identify seal concentration areas;
– To avoid negative impacts on Caspian seals, it is prohibited to fly over their habitats and breeding areas at a height below 1 kilometer, except for cases of research and rescue operations with prior notification of authorized state bodies in the field of environmental protection and specially protected natural areas.
The report notes that the current state of the Caspian seal population has become the basis for its inclusion in the List of Rare and Endangered Species of animals of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Decree No. 746 of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated November 9, 2020).
In 2019, at the initiative of NCOC, the implementation of the Program for Integrated Research of the Caspian Seal was launched with the participation of experts and specialists from Kazakhstan and Russia. The aim of the program is to protect the environment and key habitats of the Caspian seal. The program is designed for 5 years (2019 – 2023) and provides for the study of the following problems: distribution and structure of the range of the Caspian seal, population size; welfare of the Caspian seal population; condition of habitats of the Caspian seal (assessment of the quality of the habitat). The program will make it possible to compare the results of studies of the Caspian seal carried out by scientists from different countries, as well as to determine the main scientific and applied measures for the conservation of the species. Leading research organizations of Kazakhstan and Russia, such as Kazakhstan Agency of Applied Ecology LLP, Kazakhstan Research and Production Center for Fisheries, Research and Production Center for Microbiology and Virology, Institute of Ecology and Evolution named after V.I. A. N. Severtsova of the Russian Academy of Sciences, All-Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography.During the implementation of the program, work is planned on aerial survey of the seal population In, the study of population welfare (assessment of biochemical, physiological, genetic, serological indicators) and migration of seals (tagging with satellite tags). For example, in April 2019, a multispectral aerial survey of seal molting haul-outs was tested on sandbanks in the Kazakh part of the Northern Caspian. The aerial survey is based on the method of multispectral imaging of sea mammals ‘haul-outs: synchronous aerial photography in the infrared and visible spectral ranges of the Caspian seal puppies’ haul-outs. In November, in the area of the North Caspian Sea Canal (Prorva), 9 individuals of the Caspian seal were caught and marked with satellite transmitters and morphometric studies were carried out. The study of the demographic structure of the Caspian seal population (the ratio of males and females of different ages in it) was carried out in parallel with sampling of their genetic material and other samples at the seals’ haul-out sites. Selection of biological material was carried out to assess the current status of the Caspian seal population. The first research results showed an unfavorable situation for the Caspian seal at various stages: high mortality at an early age, not reaching sexual maturity, a decrease in individuals over 20-30 years old. Work is to be continued.
You may download documents on the Tehran Convention web-site:
National Report of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea for 2019-2020.
Annexes to the review of COP decisions to the Framework for the protection of the marine environment of the Caspian Sea.
Photo by N.R. Shumeyko: Kazakhstan, the Northern Caspian coast, November 2020.