Concerning the ban on fishing the marine mammals

Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation


Dear Pamela Anderson,

The Federal Agency for Fishery has considered your request to ban capturing and keeping in captivity White Whales and Cow fish that was handed over to us by the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation. Therefore it is within our competence to report the following.

The Russian Federation has its own environmental legislation as well as fishing and biological water resources protection legislation that determines the overall allowable catch and trade of biological water resources.

Cow fish and white whales are not considered rare or specially protected species and are not in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. The following species are on the list of the biological water resources species that are yearly subjected to the determination of the overall allowable catch (the order of the Agency for Agriculture of Russia dated  October, 1 2013 №365 “On determining the list of biological water resources species that are yearly subjected to the determination of the overall allowable catch” registered by the Ministry of Justice of Russia on November, 7 2013 №30328)

According to the classification of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature cow fish do not have a “Critically Endangered” status, neither do they have it according to the International Whaling Commission. This species is not a specially  protected natural object and is not at the brink of extinction.

Every year in accordance with the resolution of the Russian Federation №531 dated July, 25 2009 “About the determination and establishment of the overall allowable catch of biological water resources and its changes” the data determining the overall allowable catch are subjected to the State Ecological Examination by the expert commission that consists of famous and renown Russian specialists in  marine mammals. After receiving the approval of the State Ecological Examination  the Agency for Agriculture of Russia determines the overall allowable catch for the year to come  basing on the suggestions of the Federal Agency for Fishery  at a stated time.

The data determining the overall allowable catch is collected by the branch research institutes basing on the data they receive while doing their own research and taking into account the results of the research held by Russian and foreign institutions and groups of specialists in the field.

In accordance with yearly plans of resource research and state water bio resources monitoring branch and academic institutions do regular resource research and state monitoring. Whales and dolphins research is done in compliance with  the country's programs and the programs of international organizations. Marine mammals research, monitoring and preserving their populations is one  of the main priorities of the joint nature preservation venture within the framework of  Russian American intergovernmental treaty on the environmental cooperation  made in 1972. As a result of the whales and dolphins research there were  hundreds of scientific publications. Conferences on the preservation and biology of marine species are held regularly. While calculating the overall allowable catch of cow fish they use the minimal estimated number of cow fish in the sea of Okhotsk (3000 heads) which was determined basing on the data of the ship calculation of  cetaceans according to the method based on the common algorithm of calculation  used by all the researches and specialized international organizations such as International Whaling Commission, North Atlantic Marine Animal Commission and others.

The occurrence of cow fish in the sea of Okhotsk is 3-7 animal units per 100 miles, according to the data of the branch  science research organizations. It is comparable to the number of bagwhales and finbacks the number of which in the sea of Okhotsk is estimated as 8 thousand and 5-6 thousand heads accordingly. Basing on all the data branch fishery yearly recommend the overall allowable catch of cow fish in the sea of Okhotsk in the amount of 10 heads which is 0,394 of the minimal estimated number of the animals in the basin.

At the same time while determining the overall allowable catch biological peculiarities and the impact on the eco system of the sea of Okhotsk of cow fish are taken into account. Therefore every year there are grey whales and great polar whales that die from cow fish attacks, which are on the Red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. The results of the research done by the  FGBNU 'TINRO-CENTER' allow to say that the number of cow fish in the sea of Okhotsk is quite high and this species was rated second most numerous among the marine animals in Khuril Islands (Dall's porpois being the most numerous).

The biological basis of the overall allowable catch of cow fish in the basins of the Far East is grounded on the results of air observations in the Okhotsk sea over the period of over 10 years and the research data of such organizations as FGBNU 'MagadanNIRO', FGBNU 'SHEE RAN' and OAO 'Giprorybflot' as well as the research of FGBNU 'KamchatNIRO' in the west of Kamchatka.

For the areas where the number of cow fish and white whales requires a careful approach (for example in the basins of the West of Kamchatka)a minimal quota is recommended, quotas in other regions are issued in accordance with the number and the condition of the resources.

All in all, the cetacean of the sea of Okhotsk have been studied since the 18th century and have been fully described from the scientific point of view. Nowadays, scientists dispose of sufficient information to make judgments about the state of the majority of the populations in the sea of Okhotsk. The data on the number of cow fish, white whales and other marine mammals are collected by scientists as a result of monitoring and plane observation and other research done on sea vessels. To estimate the number the results of calculations, photo identification and animal tagging are being used.

Marine mammals that get to delphiniums are obligatorily subject to quarantine and are provided with veterinary help during their whole stay there. As a rule, the average life expectancy of marine animals in delphiniums is higher than in the wild.

The conditions of keeping the mammals for example in 'Moskvarium' that is situated at the territory of VDNKH comply with international standards. They have built three swimming pools for cow fish as well as quarantine zones as big as 30 cubic meters.  The depth of the main swimming pool is 14 meters and its length is 50 meters. For example, in the SeaWorld oceanarium in Orlando the pool is 12 meters deep, 40 meter long and 20 meters wide.

There is modern equipment for water processing, filtration systems with regular water exchange and a water control station. The level of salinity and water temperature are always kept up in accordance with conditions comparable to those that are natural for cow fish. Besides the automatic water control system pool water samples are taken every three hours to control its quality. The water samples are monthly controlled for over 60 indices in a special laboratory of Moscow.

The cow fish are given constant veterinary care by qualified veterinary doctors and special trainers who work with cow fish. Once a month they undergo an overall medical examination that includes a biochemical blood sample, microbiological inoculation and  respiratory shells swabs of upper air passages to make sure they do not have any bacterial infections as well as other tests.

The diet is worked out individually for every animal depending on its condition. A cow fish consumes about 100 kilograms of fish a day including the Pacific salmon. There is an electronic chart for every animal and a health journal to make daily entries about their health condition.

There are special educational programs on sea mammals for people of all ages in every delphinium including those in the Russian Federation. Every year delphiniums are visited by millions of people who not only receive knew knowledge but a lot of positive emotions. There are special “dolphin therapy' programs for children and people with different types of physical impediments.

A lot of renown scientists have been working in the oceanariums and delphiniums of the former USSR and the modern territory of the Russian Federation .  The employees of he oceanariums and delphiniums take part in conferences on marine mammals (including international conferences) and their research works are published in the materials of those conferences.

The catch of marine animals is being done not only for keeping them in captivity and export but also for other purposes such as tagging cetaceans and releasing them and for temporarily keeping them in captivity in order to do scientific research.

Therefore, taking into account the positive conclusions of the state environmental assessment expert committees and the stance of the science research organizations it is possible to say that catching cow fish and while whales is very low and stopping quoting and catching marine animals in the basins of Russia and also introducing a  ban on keeping them in captivity can be considered irrational.