International conventions and key players

Oiled wildlife response and preparedness is increasingly recognised as a key issue that needs to be fully integrated into existing response plans and preparedness programmes for marine pollution incidents. In Europe, Regional Conventions have started encouraging their Contracting Parties to develop oiled wildlife response plans and have agreed instruments that allow international cooperation in the case of incidents. The number of countries that have agreed oiled wildlife response plans is growing.

Response to wildlife affected by Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) is less clearly regulated and HNS spills are not often subject to the large scale cleanup processes that massive oil spills engender, however the SOLAS and MarPol Conventions do address whether discharge of such substances is permitted and on what level. While these Conventions largely speak to the issue of prevention, not allowing potentially dangerous substances to be discharged into the marine environment,it does open the door to discussions regarding response and compensation in the future.

As knowledge of the effects of anthropogenic sound on wildlife increases some countries, most notably the UK and US, have begun to regulate how and when sound can be used during oil and gas exploration. Military exercises are beginning to take into account movement of marine animals in areas where exercises are being planned. But much more remains to be done in these two important areas.

The various international key players listed here have used their influence to actively enhance the process of acceptance of the importance of oiled wildlife response and increasingly the effects of those efforts become visible.  These key players  often work together in sharing experiences and developing guidelines for good practice.