Environment
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Iran Pursues Conservation of Endangered Caspian Seal

The permanent secretariat of Tehran Convention needs to be set up as soon as possible to ensure constant monitoring of Caspian Seal numbers and better protection of the species
The Caspian Seal has been given a conservation status of "endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The Caspian Seal has been given a conservation status of "endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The secretariat office is to be first located in Baku, Azerbaijan, and rotate among the Caspian littoral countries in a four-year cycle, but the republic has been slow in setting up the local bureau

Efforts for the conservation of Caspian Sea's only mammal depend on the establishment of a local Tehran Convention secretariat whose first office is set to be in Baku, Azerbaijan, a senior official at the Department of Environment said.

The five littoral Caspian states, namely Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation and Turkmenistan, signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (aka Tehran Convention) in Tehran on Nov. 4, 2003.

In 2007, the contracting parties requested the United Nations Environment Program to temporarily carry out the functions of the convention until a permanent secretariat is put in place, Zistonline reported.

Based on an agreement in 2014, UNEP was to administer the permanent secretariat in the region as of 2015 with the first location being in Baku to later rotate among the Caspian littoral countries in a four-year cycle.

However, the republic has been slow in setting up the office which, according to Davoud Mirshekar, the head of Marine Ecosystems Office at DOE, has hindered the progress of Caspian Seal conservation programs.

"We have held several meetings, including a recent one in Geneva on the subject, but Azerbaijan appears to be negligent," he said. The last population census of the Caspian Seal was conducted by the interim secretariat five years ago and counted their numbers at 100,000.

Pointing to the long delay since the last census, Mirshekar said the permanent office must be set up in a littoral state to initiate a new round of monitoring.

Iran, however, did not rely on regional cooperation and has taken independent measures to protect the species.

Thanks to Iran's proposal, the mammal was listed in appendices I and II of the Convention on Migratory Species, an international treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Program, concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale.  

That means that the 126 CMS parties will take maximum efforts to restore its population, protect its habitat, mitigate obstacles to migration and control any factors that might endanger this species, in addition to banning hunting.

Parvin Farshchi, DOE's deputy for marine environment, recently announced an agreement between DOE and the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization to print an image of Caspian Seal on Iranian vessels to indicate Iran’s commitment toward the conservation of seals.

Caspian Seal (Pusa caspica) is one of the smallest members of the earless seal family and unique in that it is found exclusively in the brackish Caspian Sea.

It has been given a conservation status of "endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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