Iran determined to save endangered Caspian seals

FNA – The number of Caspian seals has sharply reduced by 90% over the past 30 years, officials at Iran’s Department of Environment (DoE) said, adding that the organization is working on a national action plan to preserve the endangered species.

Deputy Director of DoE’s Marine Environment Department Parvin Farshchi said on Saturday that, “in cooperation with the marine environmental institutions and organizations, a comprehensive program is being compiled to protect the Caspian Seas’ seals”, according to the news website of Department of Environment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Farshchi said painting images of seals on the ships sailing in the Caspian Sea as a form of awareness-raising is one of the of the programs being taken into account by her organization.

She added that the fishermen are being taught how to deal with seals when they encounter them.

Meanwhile, Director of the DoE’s Marine Environment Department Davood Mirshekar said that the number of Caspian seals have sharply reduced by 90% over the past 30 years as a result of water contaminators such as oil pollution, industrial waste (including heavy metals), agricultural pesticides (various types of pesticides), radioactive waste, waste water and garbage, and noise pollution (for example, caused by the activities of the oil and gas refineries, boat trips and marine vessels).

Mirshekar said that the polluters have caused serious problems for the seals’ infertility rate and have weakened their immune system.

Iran, as one of the littoral countries of the Caspian Sea, has established a hospital in Golestan Province to preserve the life of seals. In addition, Iran has put a ban on hunting this valuable species.

Earlier in 2014, Farshchi emphasized the need for all Caspian Sea littoral states to avoid breaching environmental regulations and stop polluting the sea.

She, back then, held Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan accountable for oil and gas pollution in the Caspian Sea due to their exploration, extraction and transfer activities.

She went on to say that industrial pollution is threatening the Caspian Sea environment. “This pollution flows into the Caspian Sea mostly from Russia due to widespread industrial activities around Volga River,” she added.

Farshchi said 60 percent of Caspian oil pollution comes from coastal areas. “A large number of old oil wells in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are no longer economical and they have been abandoned,” she said.

Then in August 2016, the then Head of Iran’s Department of Environment Masoomeh Ebtekar and her Azeri counterpart underlined cooperation to prevent oil pollution in the Caspian Sea.