The first Saimaa ringed seal that died in fishing last summer has been found in Saimaa. Kuutti, who was left in the vendace network in southern Saimaa, was found dead on Monday, according to observations collected by Metsähallitus. The female cube that died in the nets weighed 23.5 pounds.
This was previously reported by Yle.
Saimaa net fishing restrictions ended on 30 June. Restrictions starting in mid-April have been set to protect the cubes.
However, vendace nets are allowed to fish all year round.
The number of dead Saimaa ringed seals has actually been estimated to be almost three times higher than observed, as only a part of the dead Saimaa ringed seals become known.
According to Metsähallitus, there are about 400 Saimaa ringed seals, of which 155–220 ringed seals are able to reproduce. In recent years, more than 80 boys have been born each year.
Net fishing is the biggest threat to the ringed seal
According to the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, spring net fishing restrictions are insufficient, as net deaths of ringed seals have been postponed to July. July is the most dangerous time of the Saimaa ringed seal for their lives, as nets are allowed to fish in even the most important habitats of the ringed seal, the organization says in a press release.
According to Metsähallitus, net fishing is the biggest threat to the Saimaa ringed seal.
Net fishing should be avoided in the permanent habitats of ringed seals also in July, because about 80 per cent of the Saimaa ringed seal that died in the nets have cubes of less than 24 kg, Metsähallitus says. On average, Kuutti reaches a weight of 24 kilograms in August.
Last summer, five cubes drowned in Saimaa ringed seals. All cubes weighed less than 24 pounds and died in nets during July.
The current fishing restrictions will remain in place until next spring. Restrictions are set for five years at a time.
The Saimaa ringed seal lives only in Finland and in the Saimaa watershed, and it is a very endangered species.