MOSCOW, March 3 (RAPSI) — The Presidential Human Rights Council positively sees an initiative to ban the capture of marine mammals, believes it is answering the hopes and demands of the country's civil society, the body's website informs.

The Council reminds that catching and keeping marine mammals in captivity became the focus of interest of civil society and the media in the fall of 2018, when the news about massive catching of killer whales and beluga whales in the Sea of Okhotsk came. It also became known that 11 killer whales and 87 beluga whales caught for sale in China were kept in captivity in Srednyaya Bay in the Primorsky Krai.

As to this fact, the Council turned to the Prosecutor General's Office, the Governor of the Primorsky Krai, and the federal Government. The issue was also raised at the meeting of the Council with the President. Thus, as a result of several inspections, criminal cases were initiated over illegal extraction of biological resources and cruelty to animals. The operation to free belugas and killer whales from the "whale prison" was successfully completed in October 2019.

Human rights activists note that this could happen again, since there is no legislative ban on the capture of cetaceans and other marine mammals in the country.

As to the current draft law, Chairman of the Council's Standing Commission on Environmental Rights Sergey Tsyplenkov believes that it is capable of putting up a real barrier in the way of new "whale prisons."

This February, State Duma lawmaker representing United Russia political party Svetlana Bessarab developed a bill banning the fishing of marine mammals for cultural and educational purposes. The document has been submitted to an expert council for consideration, it is being prepared for the first reading in the lower house of the Russian Parliament.