Seabird Population Impact Assessment

The main objective of this project was the development of the Handbook on Seabird Population Impact Assessment. A scientific workshop, held in La Coruña, Spain in September 2006, began the process. At that workshop, scientists from across Europe discussed the contents of the Handbook, identifying the main issues involved in integrating impact assessment into oiled wildlife response and the wider oil spill response.

The workshop goal was to define best practices for collection and necropsy of dead oiled seabirds in the aftermath of a spill incident, and for subsequent data analysis. It also examined which seasonal seabird distribution data oil spill managers would need in the early stages of an incident to aid in the environmental protection decision making process.


In total, 38 participants attended the workshop, including scientists, regulators and NGOs. Lectures were given on different available methodologies to trace the origin of seabirds (e.g. by biometry or genetic fingerprinting); case studies of past spills (Prestige, Tricolor, Erika, Estonia spills); cooperation between NGOs and governments (Canada, UK); international compensation regimes; issues specific to certain regions (Baltic); and structures for international cooperation and exchange.

The main conclusions from the workshop were:

  • Where possible, impacts to seabirds from oil spills should be prevented. Ideally, the process would include consultation with scientists during initial response operation planning and the use of data collected pre-spill, including seasonal distribution of vulnerable species.
  • Impact Assessment should be an integrated part of oil spill response planning.
  • In order to make a reliable wildlife population impact assessment, an internationally developed manual, protocol or set of guidelines that can be used to design an adequate, standardized system of data collection and analysis as an integrated part of oil spill response is needed.


  • Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) (lead)
  • University A Coruña
  • Sea Alarm


  • February 2006 - August 2007