Russian Watchdog Warns Six Walrus Calves From 'Whale Jail' May Be Smuggled To China

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Russian Watchdog Warns Six Walrus Calves From 'Whale Jail' May Be Smuggled to China

A Russian environmental watchdog has questioned the legitimacy of an appeal by the Akvatoriya company in Vladivostok to sell to China six baby walruses that were captured in 2018 in Chukotka by two companies implicated in the recent "whale jail" scandal, the watchdog's press service told Sputnik on Thursday

MOSCOW/VLADIVOSTOK (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 05th December, 2019) A Russian environmental watchdog has questioned the legitimacy of an appeal by the Akvatoriya company in Vladivostok to sell to China six baby walruses that were captured in 2018 in Chukotka by two companies implicated in the recent "whale jail" scandal, the watchdog's press service told Sputnik on Thursday.

According to the Federal Agency for Supervision of Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor), on November 25, 2019, Akvatoriya lodged a request to issue a permit under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to export six baby walruses from Russia to China. The documents provided by the company, however, raised questions on the origin of the animals.

"Thus, taking into account that the date of birth indicated in the animals' passports is 2018, the age of the animals at the time of capture could not exceed 10 months. There is no information about the address and conditions of keeping the walruses in the exporter's request. As part of the review procedure, we sent a request to the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency on the legitimacy of catching the given walruses," the press service stated.

According to the Russian legislation, capturing walruses that young is illegal. On Tuesday, the Russian Environment Ministry ordered head of Rosprirodnadzor Svetlana Radionova to check Srednyaya Bay, where the baby walruses were held in captivity. In addition, in March, one of the workers of the "whale jail" confirmed that there were walruses among the animals stranded in captivity.�

The scandal involving the "whale jail" erupted last year when environmentalists found that a large group of marine mammals was held in captivity in Srednyaya Bay of the Primorsky Region. The stranded animals were being prepared to be smuggled to China. As a result of a probe into the illegal fishing of aquatic animals and animal abuse, the companies responsible for the violation were fined a total of 150 million rubles ($2.4 million). The trapped orcas and belugas were steadily released in groups from June to November.