The Caspian seal is an endemic species of marine mammals in the Caspian Sea fauna. The population size of this species has declined since the last century for a number of natural causes and anthropogenic / man-caused factors (e.g. human footprint). These causes include various diseases, difficulties experienced in a breeding period, reduction of food stock, unfavorable weather conditions, as well as hunting, getting caught in trawling nets and accidental icebreakers encounter. In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature included the Caspian Seal in the Red Book and reclassified this species from the “vulnerable” category to the category of “endangered” species.
The companies involved in the North Caspian Project initiated surveys and funding to learn more about the Caspian Seal and elaborate its protection strategy. The Caspian Seal migration routes have been studied using satellite imagery. In winter overflights with helicopters and air planes are arranged to identify the seals population density in ice covered areas.
Every winter the Company employees supported by specialists from RoK environmental agencies and local environmental protection authorities implement a joint action plan to prevent an adverse impact of icebreakers on seals.
At present, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified sturgeon as “endangered” species. The Caspian sturgeon population is impacted by uncontrollable and illegal fishing, construction of river dykes, harmful discharges from farming and industrial facilities.
Since 2016, the Company is closely engaged with Zhayik-Atyrau Sturgeon Hatchery in activities aimed at increasing the production of sturgeon youngsters and their further release into the Ural-Caspian Water Basin. Over the last two years, 490,930 sturgeon juveniles have been released into the Ural River with the Company’s support. Similar activities are also planned in the future.
Jointly with local ornithologists the Company performs an annual environmental monitoring to identify types of birds, their population and habitats in summer and autumn migration seasons, summer nesting and wintering.
During such surveys the observations were carried out over 280 species of birds in migration seasons and over 100 species in nesting periods. Out of them more than 40 species were included in the national and international Red Data Books.