HELCOM common monitoring relevant for the seal population trends is documented on a general level in the HELCOM Monitoring Manual under the sub-programme: Seal abundance.
HELCOM monitoring guidelines for seals were adopted in 2014 and currently all monitoring guidelines are being reviewed for inclusion in the HELCOM Monitoring Manual.
The monitoring methodology is described in detail in the core indicator report from 2013.
The monitoring activities relevant to the indicator, which are currently carried out by HELCOM Contracting Parties are described in the HELCOM Monitoring Manual in the Monitoring Concept Table.
Sub-programme: Seal Abundance
Monitoring Concept Table
Current monitoring is carried out on a national basis, but initiatives of coordinating methodology have been taken by the Health tem of the HELCOM Seal expert group.
The optimal monitoring should encompass sufficient numbers of samples from all species of seals in all areas where they occur. Monitoring occur opportunistically when dead seals are recovered by stranding, by catches or hunting. Hunting is not motivated by environmental monitoring but is decided upon by national authorities for other reasons (mainly to protect fishing gear).
For grey seals, sufficient material is available in the central and northern Baltic Sea, but it would be important to include more material from the southern Baltic Sea for analyses of regional differences.
Monitoring of harbour seals is sufficient in the Kattegat, but more data is needed from the Kalmarsund and the Southern Baltic from Danish waters could prove to be important in the future.
For ringed seals more samples are required from the entire area of distribution.