A range of measures have been put in place during the last century to protect the Caspian seal, such as a ban on seal nets and restrictions on hunting, including the protection of adult females during the breeding season (1) (11). However, legal hunting for commercial and scientific purposes still continues (1). A number of conservation projects are in place in the region, including the Caspian Environment Programme (CEP), which aims to halt environmental degradation in the Caspian Sea and promote sustainable development (4) (7), and the Caspian Seal Project, which is supported by bodies such as the UK Darwin Initiative, and which aims to monitor the Caspian seal population, work for its conservation, and raise its profile as a flagship species for the region. As part of this, a Seal Conservation Action and Management Plan (SCAMP) has been developed, although its most important recommendations have yet to be implemented (1) (9). The Caspian Seal Conservation Network (CSCN) is also coordinating research into the species (9).
Further conservation measures recommended for the Caspian seal include a ban on all hunting, measures to reduce bycatch, the creation of protected areas, and potentially, although controversially, introducing a predator to control the comb jellyfish (1) (9) (13). Present levels of Caspian seal mortality are not believed to be sustainable, and without urgent action it is unlikely that this unique mammal will survive in the long-term (1) (8) (9) (12).