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.
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From collection: Vital Caspian Graphics 2 - Opportunities, Aspirations and Challenges, 2012
Philippe Rekacewicz (le Monde Diplomatique) assisted by Laura Margueritte and Cecile Marin, later updated by Riccardo Pravettoni (GRID-Arendal), Novikov, Viktor (Zoi Environment Network)