Iceland’s seal population has decreased by a third in the last six years and is at dangerously low levels, reports RÚV.
According to a new report by Iceland’s Marine Research Institute, the seal stock has depleted by 77% since they first began to monitor the seal population in 1980.
Icelandic authorities have set population thresholds in place to preserve the seal population and would ideally like a minimum of around 12.000 seals but the current estimate is only around 7.600.
Reasons for the decline are, according to the report, poorly understood. But the Marine Research Institute cites aggressive fishing and environmental changes as possible factors.
Seals are often by-caught in lumpsucker-and cod gillnet fisheries, and warming sea temperatures has triggered changes in breeding success, population sizes, distribution and survival of species like seals who are reliant on sandeel for nutrition.