Oiled wildlife response can be a crucial element in a response to oil pollution at sea. Wildlife such as birds, sea turtles and marine mammals may become affected by oil or other pollutants spilled at sea. In past European spills such as the Prestige, Tricolor and Sea Empress, the arrival of thousands of oiled birds and other animals have added complex problems on top of the other, already challenging aspects of oil spill combat and clean-up activities.
European Member states have become increasingly aware of these challenges and discussions have taken place aiming to fill existing gaps in European preparedness for such incidents. However, a significant remaining challenge is the development of adequate oiled wildlife rehabilitation capabilities. Although some Member States hold an oiled wildlife response plan and the expertise to deal with live oiled animals within their home countries, the operational standards that would enable countries to pool this expertise together and make it internationally available across Europe are lacking.
To assist in filling this gap, the EUROWA project, funded under the EU's Civil Protection Financial Instrument, will create an international Module for oiled wildlife response according to the standards published by the European Commission, and develop training packages to enable experts from any Member State to become a qualified member of the new Module.