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Yearlings of grey seal will need rescue this year again


Naturalists have no doubt that in a few months this year, similarly to the same time each year, weak yearlings of the grey seal will be found on our Baltic Sea coast again. Their rescue uses funds allocated under the Environmental Protection Support Programme (EPSP) administered by the Ministry of Environment.

In Lithuania, the grey seal is a protected species included in the List of protected fauna, flora and fungi species. The weak yearlings found on the coast are placed at the Lithuanian Maritime Museum where they receive treatment and food until they gain weight and are released back into the sea. This takes about half a year or from March to September. Funds for the keeping, treatment and feeding of seal yearlings have been allocated from the EPSP since 2011. For example, the sum allocated in 2015 was 7 000 euros, and the amount granted in the period from April 2016 to September of this year is 14 000 euros.

According to Laura Janulaitienė, senior desk officer of the Nature Protection Division of the Ministry of Environment, grey deals do not breed in Lithuania as there are no suitable places for that. They migrate in the Baltic Sea in search of food. Last year, 18 seals were observed from the coast and 9 corpses of yearlings were found. Dead seals most often are transported by undercurrents from the neighbouring countries such as Estonia, Finland, etc. The cause of death is difficult to establish as the bodies are usually much disintegrated. It is believed that seals die when entangled in nets or from diseases, etc.

In 2016 the Baltic Sea was inhabited by about 36 000 grey seals. In Finland, Estonia and Sweden their abundance is regulated by hunting, but at a strictly set time, according to the established quotas and only with permits. Although the abundance of the population is regulated, in accordance with the EU Habitats Directive protected marine areas must be established with appropriate conditions for seal breeding. Finland and Estonia each has set up 7 protected areas to protect this species. In Poland and Latvia the grey seal is under no protection.

Fishermen fishing in the Baltic Sea or the coastal zone and suffering damage caused by seals receive compensations from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (75 pct.) and the national budget (25 pct.). Those who wish to obtain such compensation must register the data on seals observed and damage caused by them in the fishing logbook.

The seals living in the Baltic Sea give birth to their pups from January, so in late February abandoned pups may be found on our seacoast. Such cases should be reported to the Lithuanian Maritime Museum at the telephone number 8464 90740 or the emergency call number 112.

Communication Division

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas