A panel of whale scientists convened by IUCN has addressed an open letter to the Russian Prime Minister to highlight the lack of transparency in oil operations off eastern Russia, which could seriously imact the already critically-endangered western gray whale population .
The panel criticised the failure of certain oil consortia, which include oil giants Exxon, BP and Rosneft, to provide timely access to information about their operations on the Sakhalin Shelf and allow the scientists the opportunity to provide scientific and technical advice on effective mitigation measures. Of particular concern to the scientists is unannounced seismic work close to the nearshore Pitlun feeding area used by nursing females and their calves. Seismic work involves the use of sound energy from airgun impulses to characterise oil and gas deposits and is considered detrimental to the western gray whale population, which numbers only about 130 individuals.
The panel called for a much greater degree of cooperation to help protect one of the smallest and most vulnerable whale populations in the world.