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    Russia to completely ban seal hunting by March 1

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    Russia's Natural Resources Ministry plans to completely ban seal hunting in the White Sea by March 1, the ministry's press service said on Friday.

    MOSCOW, February 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Natural Resources Ministry plans to completely ban seal hunting in the White Sea by March 1, the ministry's press service said on Friday.

    On February 16, a ban on hunting whitecoats, or two-week old baby seals, as well as adult seals in the White Sea, came into force. The law also bans the industrial hunting of all mammals in the region.

    By March 1, the ministry plans to also ban the hunting of so-called 'ragged-jackets,' or pups undergoing their first molt, and greycoats - baby seals that are two weeks older than whitecoats.

    "Russia will completely ban one of the most inhumane types of hunting in the world, which is banned in the vast majority of developed states," Russia's natural resources minister Yury Trutnyev said.

    The population of seals in the White Sea regions was estimated at 3-3.5 million during the first such count in 1928. By the 1950s, the seal population in the region had halved, falling to 1-1.5 million, and within just over a decade had dwindled to 500,000 seals, mainly due to extensive hunting and the melting of ice.

    In 2008, the estimated number of seals in the region stood at between 109,000 and 123,000.

    Russia's annual baby seal hunting quota stood at 35,000 seals.

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