Mass Arctic seal starvation "a bluff"
来源：未知 作者：高全虞 时间：2019-03-07 03:08:06
By Emma Young Claims that 200,000 seal pups were trapped on ice floes in Russia’s White Sea and would slowly starve to death were false, say international wildlife experts. No seals were ever in any danger, says Masha Vorontsova, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Moscow, who flew over the White Sea ice floes last Thursday. “I saw only tens of seals on the floes. The situation is normal,” she told New Scientist. “The current situation is there is no disaster at all and there never was.” At an emergency meeting held in St Petersberg on Monday, seal and fishery experts discussed their own aerial observations a nd satellite images of the area. Peter Prokosch, director of the World Wide Fund for Nature’s Arctic Programme, in Norway, says: “It was all a bluff. The local fishery institute gave out information that the seals were trapped and starving before they had even made a survey. It was nothing.” A Russian rescue mission to ‘save’ the seals was abandoned on Saturday, after the first reports that the claims may have been wrong, says Vorontsova. Vladimir Potelev of the SevPINRO Marine Research Institute in Arkhangelsk claimed early last week that hundreds of thousands of harp seals were trapped by freak winds and would die slowly of starvation. The winds were preventing the ice floes carrying the seals to their feeding grounds in the Barents Sea, he said. But a survey by scientists at the PINRO headquarters in Murmansk on Friday 11 May found very few seals in the area, according to Vorontosova. The situation is “very embarrassing” for all Russian marine institutes, adds Prokosch. It is unclear why SevPINRO made the initial announcement and New Scientist has been unable to contact the institute or PINRO. Vorontsova says the institute’s intention could have been to provide a reason to continue the annual seal hunt. There have been recent moves in the Russian parliament to reduce the hunt. IFAW campaigns against seal hunting all over the world. “It is true that after the announcement was made, the fishery ministry announced it should be possible to kill more seals as they were all going to die anyway,” Prokosch told New Scientist. On 7 May, SevPINRO issued instructions about what should be done as a result of the “emergency”, says Vorontsova. The two-page document, which was circulated around the hunters and local population of the White Sea coast, recommended that an unlimited seal hunt should be allowed, Vorontsova claims. It also included instructions on how to dry the seal pelts and process the meat, she says. Russian seal hunters slaughter about 40,000 young seal pups and about 100,000 older seals every year for their pelts and oil, says IFAW. The hunting of young “white coats” is illegal everywhere else in the world. On 19 April, the Russian parliament’s environmental committee met in Moscow to discuss banning the hunt of these baby seals. SevPINRO receives funding for predicting the number of seals available to hunt each year, says Vorontsova,