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FAO Fishtat on line database
Uploaded on Thursday 01 Mar 2012
Historical decline of the Caspian seal (Pusa caspica)
Original cartography by Philippe Rekacewicz (le Monde Diplomatique) assisted by Laura Margueritte and Cecile Marin, later updated by Riccardo Pravettoni (GRID-Arendal), Novikov, Viktor (Zoi Environment Network)
The Caspian seal (Pusa caspica) population has
declined by more than 90 per cent since the start of
the 20th century, falling from more than 1 million
individuals in 1900 to around 100 000 today (CEP,
2007). However, at present there are only around
7 to 15 thousand breeding females, meaning the
population has very low reproductive capacity. The
principle cause of the decline was unsustainable levels
of hunting for seal oil and fur through much of the
20th century. Large-scale commercial hunting ceased
in the early 1990s, but mortality caused by humans still
continues to be the greatest threat to the population.
Sporadic commercial hunts restarted from 2004, and
currently by-catch in illegal sturgeon fisheries may be
killing more than 10 000 seals per year.