The Western Gray Whale is one of the most critically endangered whale populations on earth. Only about 120 individuals, and 25 breeding females, remain. These imperiled whales feed only in the summer and autumn, and almost exclusively near Piltun Bay in northeast Sakhalin. Unfortunately, in 2008, large Russian and international oil and gas companies' operations in the area coincided with a sharp decline in whales observed in their primary feeding area.
As a result, internationally recognized scientists from the Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel urgently warned oil and gas companies operating in the area to implement a moratorium on all industrial activities in or near the whales' main feeding area for summer and autumn of 2009. Failure to heed these scientists' warnings could be devastating for the whale population.
Gazprom, Shell, Mitsui, and Mitsubishi have already agreed to the urgent moratorium. However, Exxon, BP and Rosneft have not yet complied with the moratorium. Please join us in urging the remaining companies operating in the area to join the moratorium and to support the proposed Sakhalin Marine Federal Wildlife Reserve.
I call on you to join other corporations to implement a moratorium on onshore and offshore exploitation in and around the summer and autumn feeding habitat of the critically endangered Western Gray Whale near Russia's Sakhalin Island.
With only about 120 individuals remaining--including only about 25 breeding females--the Western Gray Whale is already on the verge of extinction. These whales feed only in the summer and autumn and their primary feeding ground lies in and adjacent to your company's Piltun Bay area of operations.
The number of observed Western Gray Whales in their primary feeding area declined sharply in 2008, according to the Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel (WGWAP), comprised of 11 prominent international scientists convened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This decline coincided with disruptive oil and gas industrial activity in the area. Additional displacement of the whales from their primary feeding area in 2009 could be devastating for the population. As a result, the WGWAP urges a moratorium on all industrial activities on or near the whales' main feeding area for summer and autumn of 2009.
Gazprom, Shell, Mitsui, and Mitsubisi (Sakhalin II project sponsors) have taken a responsible course of action and have suspended their proposed 2009 seismic survey in the area. However, your company continues with plans for industrial exploitation activities that threaten the Western Gray Whale with extinction. Additionally, your company's refusal thus far to cooperate with the WGWAP threatens to undercut the responsible actions taken by others.
I urge you to join the growing call of scientists, local citizens, and companies to suspend these perilous operations and to support the creation of the proposed Sakhalin Marine Federal Wildlife Reserve.
Keep up the great work. Look what you've accomplished!
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