The need for response preparedness

Oil drifting towards feeding areas, breeding areas (birds, seals and sea lions), haul out sites (seals and sea lions) or nesting beaches (sea turtles) requires dedicated measures be taken as part of response operations, in an effort to prevent animals becoming oiled. Even where protective measures are in place it is highly likely that the spilled oil will cause casualties.

Large numbers of oiled wildlife pose considerable and immediate logistical challenges to the authorities in charge of shoreline response operations. Seabirds, in particular, can come ashore in large numbers if an oil spill hits at the wrong place and in the wrong season. There have been European incidents in which several hundreds and even over a thousand live oiled individuals have washed ashore per day. If animals wash ashore, whether dead and live, they need to be collected and dealt with for a range of different reasons, including human health concerns.

The authorities in charge of an oil spill response may have to deal with a range of organisations and/or members of the public who wish to be involved in in the response, including scientists, rehabilitation groups and individuals who want to volunteer, often appearing on site unannounced. Many of these individuals and groups will have no direct experience with oiled wildlife response. This inexperience increases the chance that the welfare of the oiled wildlife and the long term succes of the response will not be optimal.

Having a regularly exercised plan in place that can be rapidly executed by specially trained people offers the best guarantee that all of these interests are optimally dealt with according to pre-defined objectives, principles and strategies allowing for best possible outcome for oiled wildlife during a response.