Written question – Protection of Mediterranean monk seals – E-007103/2017

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is one of the most endangered mammal species in the world. Its distribution is very fragmented and includes temperate and subtropical waters in the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Atlantic. The number of representatives of these species is estimated at just 600. They are grouped in three geographically isolated subpopulations: East Mediterranean (Greece, Cyprus and Turkey), the western coast of Africa and Madeira. Increasing human pressure and the disruption of suitable habitats has led to changes in the social behaviour of this species.

According to Croatian biologists, the northern Adriatic is home to several individuals from this endangered species. In 2015, an X-ray exam of a dead Mediterranean monk seal revealed that it had been shot in the head several times. In addition to some scars on the head, possible traces of violence were found on the unlucky animal’s tail, indicating that it had been attacked with a harpoon. In Croatia, the Mediterranean monk seal is protected by the Nature Protection Act. A fine of HRK 100 000 was imposed for the killing.

Does the Commission feel that the protection of Mediterranean monk seals is being properly regulated by the aforementioned law? What measures does the Commission intend to propose to prevent the extinction of this species?