IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
IUCN Evaluation of the Harp Seal, Pagophilus gronlandicus
Prepared by the Pinniped Specialist Group
A. Population reduction Declines measured over the longer of 10 years or 3 generations
A1 CR > 90%; EN > 70%; VU > 50%
Al. Population reduction observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected in the past where the causes of the reduction are clearly reversible AND understood AND have ceased, based on and specifying any of the following:
(a) direct observation
(b) an index of abundance appropriate to the taxon
(c) a decline in area of occupancy (AOO), extent of occurrence (EOO) and/or habitat quality
(d) actual or potential levels of exploitation
(e) effects of introduced taxa, hybridization, pathogens, pollutants, competitors or parasites.
Harp Seal females attain sexual maturity at 4-6 years of age and have a maximum longevity of 30-35 years. Thus, the average age of reproducing individuals should be at least 10 years.
A2, A3 & A4 CR > 80%; EN > 50%; VU > 30%
A2. Population reduction observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected in the past where the causes of reduction may not have ceased OR may not be understood OR may not be reversible, based on (a) to (e) under A1.
All known stocks of Harp Seals are increasing in number.
A3. Population reduction projected or suspected to be met in the future (up to a maximum of 100 years) based on (b) to (e) under A1.
Climate change impacts are almost certainly going to be negative for Harp Seals in the future.
A4. An observed, estimated, inferred, projected or suspected population reduction (up to a maximum of 100 years) where the time period must include both the past and the future, and where the causes of reduction may not have ceased OR may not be understood OR may not be reversible, based on (a) to (e) under A1.
Rates of population reductions over the next 100 years are difficult to predict. Impacts of climate change will depend on the relative rates of ice declines across the range of Harp Seals and the degree to which they are flexible about shifting breeding locations – which is currently unknown.
B. Geographic range in the form of either B1 (extent of occurrence) AND/OR B2 (area of occupancy)
B1. Extent of occurrence (EOO): CR
The EOO of Harp Seals is > 20,000 km².
B2. Area of occupancy (AOO): CR
The AOO of Harp Seals is > 2,000 km².
AND at least 2 of the following:
(a) Severely fragmented, OR number of locations: CR = 1; EN (b) Continuing decline in any of: (i) extent of occurrence; (ii) area of occupancy; (iii) area, extent and/or quality of habitat; (iv) number of locations or subpopulations; (v) number of mature individuals.
(c) Extreme fluctuations in any of: (i) extent of occurrence; (ii) area of occupancy; (iii) number of locations or subpopulations; (iv) number of mature individuals.
C. Small population size and decline
Number of mature individuals: CR
The current abundance of Harp Seals is approximately 8 million, with pup production of approximately 1.4 million.
AND either C1 or C2:
C1. An estimated continuing decline of at least: CR = 25% in 3 years or 1 generation; EN = 20% in 5 years or 2 generations; VU = 10% in 10 years or 3 generations (up to a max. of 100 years in future)
C2. A continuing decline AND (a) and/or (b):
(a i) Number of mature individuals in each subpopulation: CR or
(a ii) % individuals in one subpopulation: CR = 90–100%; EN = 95–100%; VU = 100%
(b) Extreme fluctuations in the number of mature individuals.
D. Very small or restricted population
Number of mature individuals: CR AND/OR restricted area of occupancy typically: AOO
The total population of Harp Seals is approximately 8 million.
E. Quantitative analysis
Indicating the probability of extinction in the wild to be: Indicating the probability of extinction in the wild to be: CR > 50% in 10 years or 3 generations (100 years max.); EN > 20% in 20 years or 5 generations (100 years max.); VU > 10% in 100 years
Harp Seals are almost certainly going to be negatively impacted by climate change. But, they are currently abundant and increasing.
Listing recommendation — Because of their current high population size and increasing trends, the Harp Seal should be listed as Least Concern. However, they should be assessed again within the next decade, because of the risk of climate change induced habitat degradation.
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern