SEJONG, Dec.22 (Korea Bizwire) – Measures are being taken to save spotted seals, the numbers of which are decreasing due to ocean pollution and global warming.
According to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, spotted seals live in the polar and temperate regions of the northern Pacific Ocean, usually around the Yellow Sea, Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.
The spotted seals that live in the Yellow Sea breed in China’s Liaodong Bay, and migrate to Baengnyeong Island and areas around Hwanghae Province in Korea from spring to autumn, resting and feeding.
The government has designated the seals as an endangered species, and is looking after them. However, due to pollution, global warming and development of coastal areas, the population is dwindling.
According to the Cetacean Special Research Institute of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, the number of spotted seals inhabiting the Yellow Sea reached 8,000 in the 1930s, but decreased to 2,300 in the 1980s and less than 1,000 in the 2000s.
The melting of glaciers due to global warming has led to the elevated rate of death among newborn seals, and pollution is also threatening the lives of the animals. Fishing nets and a decrease in fish stocks due to excessive fishing have also influenced the diminishing population.
The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries decided to take measures to protect the spotted seals.
Firstly, in cooperation with China, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries plans to study the cause of the decrease in the population of seals, and take measures to lower the fatality rate of baby seals.
To start the process, a ‘North East Asia Seal Protection Symposium’ will take place next year. Officials from Korea, China and Russia will participate. The signing of an MOU with China to protect the seals will take place. In addition, to attract support from international organizations, an investigation on the current status of seals will be conducted.
Secondly, measures will be taken within the nation to improve the living environment of seals. The amount of ocean waste that is generated will be cut down, old fishing nets will be gathered and thrown away to prevent seals from getting strangled by them, and coastal areas will be cleaned regularly.
Artificial decks will be installed to provide places to rest for the seals. The ministry explained that the rocks around Baengnyeong Island where seals usually rest become very small when the tide comes in.
Various regulations will be implemented to protect the seals and prevent them from getting hurt. The ministry is also looking into designating the habitat of spotted seals in Baengnyeong Island as a Marine Protected Area.
By Lina Jang (email@example.com)