HELSINKI, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The death of four Saimaa seal cubs in fishing nets this week in the lake area in eastern Finland has triggered a mass campaign to widen the ban on fishing nets.
An annual six-week prohibition of nets ended on Monday and four deaths were reported in as many days.
A civic initiative to the parliament attracted over 10,000 signatures in one day. It demands a total ban on net fishing in the area.
In Finland, a civic initiative needs to have 50,000 backers in order to be taken up in the parliament.
The species is highly endangered and now has around 400 adults. Jouni Koskela, a biologist at the Board of Forestry, told national broadcaster Yle that 67 newborns were counted this year.
Minister for Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppa said on Thursday that the death of cubs is "extremely unfortunate".
Krista Mikkonen, the minister for the environment and climate, appealed to fishers in the Saimaa seal areas to refrain also from using nets in July.
A working group will be established to investigate the effectiveness of current fishing restrictions.
Biologist Koskela said the choice of ending the ban at the end of June was a compromise in 2016. The authorities had favoured including July as well.