The Central Asian Institute for Environmental Research (CAIER) had the opportunity to present its work to save the endemic Caspian seal to representatives of the Helsinki Convention (HELCOM).
HELCOM has been successfully protecting the marine habitat of the Baltic Sea since 1980, and the organization includes such countries as Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, the European Community, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Estonia.
An online meeting with CAIER specialists and the HELCOM Marine Mammal Expert Group (EG MaMa) took place on 12 September.
During the meeting, Assel Tasmagambetova, ecologist and founder of CAIER, spoke about the Institute’s long-term work to save the Caspian seal population.
The preliminary results of the recent 7th international expedition to the Caspian Sea were also presented, during which a group of scientists, including world leading experts in the field of marine biodiversity, selected unique analyses of Caspian seal milk, conducted genetic studies and others.
In turn, HELCOM experts presented their mission, vision and current projects. The topics discussed ranged from current problems in the conservation of marine mammals in the Baltic Sea to strategies for solving these problems.
At the end of the event, it became evident that there are several points of overlap in the work of both organizations, which creates prerequisites for potential cooperation.
Given the obvious overlap of interests, both parties expressed a strong interest in pooling resources and expertise to address pressing issues related to marine mammals in the Baltic and Caspian Seas.
It was unanimously agreed to schedule a follow-up meeting to go into more detail on possible co-operation. Action plans were established, including exchange of relevant documentation and establishment of contact persons in each organization for further communication.
It should be reminded that CAIER has been involved in the conservation of the Caspian seal population since 2015, during which time 7 international expeditions have been carried out, and the data from these expeditions became a reason to include the Caspian seal in the Red Data Book of Kazakhstan.
In 2019, the Caspian Seal Research and Rehabilitation Center was opened on the basis of CAIER – the only institution in the Northern Caspian providing veterinary care to the Caspian endemic. Over 40 Caspian endemics have been rescued since the Center’s existence.
In 2022, CAIER established a Scientific Council comprised of the world’s leading experts in the field of marine biodiversity, including Professor Daniel Costa, Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Tommy Nyman, Professor at the Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research, as well as scientists from the UK, Kazakhstan, USA, Saudi Arabia and France.