On April 5, 2018, the project of the Russian Agriculture Ministry order on updating the fishing rules for the Baikal fishery basin was discussed on the air of the program «Different time» on Radio of Russia. The innovations are aimed at the industrial shooting of seals on Lake Baikal, which, according to the authors’ intention, should provide both the Pribaikalsk region – the Angara and Buryatia – with valuable fat and fur, and save the population from undermining the food base. The interdiction of the seals shooting will apply only to nursing females and whit-coat seal (baby seal). The project order provoked a wide public protest. Experts expressed doubt that the initiative would solve both problems.
During the broadcast, the CEO at the Lake Baikal Foundation Anastasia Tsvetkova noted that the qualitative registration of seals at Lake Baikal has not been carried out since 1997. Moreover, the available accounting methods have a high error – up to 30%, therefore it is impossible to draw any conclusions about the current number of Baikal seals without continuous monitoring of the population for several years. The director of the Foundation told that the seal eats mostly an inactive goby fish, omul is too fast and the seal gets it from the net, that’s why the statement that the omul in Baikal was gone because seal eats it too much is wrong. Anastasia Tsvetkova also noted the high level of emotional intelligence of the Baikal seal and the necessity for an extremely careful attitude to the unique endemic. It is known that due to the peculiarities of the biology of the Baikal seals reproduction, they possess specific mechanisms for self-regulation of numbers. The CEO of the Irkutsk Nerpinarium Evgeny Baranov, the scientist-limnologist, described it in his essay.
Full recording of the broadcast is available by reference.
Update: due to high public resonance, the project of the Russian Agriculture Ministry order was taken off the table before the official date for the end of public hearings on the project.