August 29, 2019
Scientists of the Marine Mammals Council (MMC) with more than 10 years of experience in the specialty, academic degrees, recognition in the scientific community and published scientific works in the field of the study and conservation of marine mammals, reviewed materials of the total allowable catch (TAC) for 2020 for cetaceans and pinnipeds. The results of the review were sent to Rosprirodnadzor and the expert commission of the Governmental Ecological Expertise (GEE) in the form of official review and reasoned proposals.
Rosprirodnadzor began the examination of proposed TAC on July 24, the deadline for its implementation is in two months after beginning of examination. The conclusion of GEE under the law can be either positive or negative. In the latter case, the catch of marine mammals will be prohibited.
According to MMC experts:
– justification materials for the Beluga whales TAC in the CHUKOTSK Autonomous Okrug in 2020 should be RETURNED TO BE MODIFIED, since the information on the beluga population numbers is significantly outdated, the text does not contain indicator information about the current stock status, gross errors were made in calculating the growth;
– the TAC for beluga whales in the Sea of Okhotsk in 2020 should be set to ZERO, as the justification materials provide data indicating a two-fold decrease in the stock of beluga whales in this area. The authors of the TAC ignored the fact that the decline in the stock of beluga whales in the Sea of Okhotsk in the last decade of the 20th century occurred in fact with a complete absence of commercial fishing. At the same time, in the Sea of Okhotsk in recent years there has been quite intensive capture of beluga whales for the needs of aquariums and selling abroad, however, the capture statistics are not given in the TAC materials, the inevitable accidental death of animals during live capture is ignored, not analyzed and not taken into account.
– justification materials for the fur seal TAC cannot be considered perfectly justified and must be RETURNED for improvement, due to the failure to provide complete data on the general state of the fur seal population, numerous errors and inconsistencies in the basic data on the number of different sex and age groups of animals.
– TAC for 2020 for all three species of dolphins (bottlenose dolphin, pilot whale, and white-sided dolphin of the Pacific), according to SMM scientists, should be set to ZERO. These species have not been completely studied in the waters of Russia, scientific data on the number and condition of their populations are not available, their stock cannot be determined, and therefore it is impossible to scientifically substantiate a safe level for capture.
– materials for TAC of walrus for 2020 are recommended to be modified. However, given that walrus is an extremely important food item for the indigenous population of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, MMC experts consider it possible to establish TACs at the level of actual demand in the amount of 1,004 individuals. According to scientists, the removal of this number of walruses from the population to ensure the life of indigenous people should not negatively affect the state of stock, because the annual removal of such number of walruses in the last 11 years has not led to any visible depressive changes in the population of this species.
READ full text (Russian only) of the reasoned proposals of the MMC scientists at the following link: