According to an assessment by Metsähallitus, the winter population of Saimaa ringed seal totalled about 360 in 2016. The estimated number of seal pups born, 86, is more than at any time during the 30-year monitoring period. In 2010 and 2011, an increasing number of pups survived thanks to larger areas of restricted net fishing in the spring. The first seals born during these years have reached sexual maturity and increased the birth rate within the population. The artificial snow drifts made, under Metsähallitus’ leadership, by a large number of volunteers have prevented pup mortality in nests resulting from a lack of suitable natural snow mounds. The higher number of pups observed in the last two years in particular provides tangible proof of the success of these conservation decisions and measures.
The four percent annual growth in the Saimaa ringed seal population is the result of cooperation between various parties. Metsähallitus is responsible for conservation under the guidance of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of the Environment. Collectives for communal waters and ELY Centres have collaborated successfully in drawing up fishing restriction agreements. Monitoring, management and protection of the Saimaa ringed seal population will continue on the basis of broad cooperation, in accordance with the Saimaa ringed seal conservation strategy and action plan.
› The Saimaa Ringed Seal LIFE Project
Photo: Jouni Koskela