Established in 1999, Sea Alarm has its roots in Europe’s wildlife rehabilitation community. With the goal of creating a more professional and coordinated network of European oiled wildlife responders, Sea Alarm has made significant contributions to the development of oiled wildlife preparedness and response capabilities, and to building response capacity and cooperation across Europe. Today Sea Alarm is focused on expanding these activities throughout the world.
Working in close collaboration with NGOs, government authorities, and the oil and maritime industries, Sea Alarm initiates and facilitates strategic preparedness activities for oiled wildlife response: raising awareness of the importance of wildlife response planning and advocating for further integration into spill response activities, as well as enhancing the professionalism and cooperation in oiled wildlife response efforts.
Oiled wildlife response
Sea Alarm provides assistance and advice during responses to oiled wildlife incidents (see Sea Alarm Responses Services). It assists local and international response teams to optimize their efforts and help ensure an effective response. Sea Alarm has also assisted in many European incidents by providing advice to local responders and/or mobilizing and coordinating response assistance.
In the last 15 years, Sea Alarm has provided assistance during numerous oiled wildlife incidents, including the Jessica (Galapagos, 2001), Prestige (Spain, 2002), Tricolor (Belgium, 2003), Mystery spill (Estonia, 2006), MS Server (Norway, 2007), Volganeft 139 (Russia 2007) Mystery spill, (Germany 2008), Full City (Norway, 2009,) Godafoss (Norway, 2011), Mercury Harbour (Netherlands, 2011), MS Oliva (Tristan da Cunha, 2011), Bonga (Nigeria, 2011), MS Flinterstar (Belgium, 2015) spills.
Response plan development and training
By assisting in the development of response plans, Sea Alarm helps governments, industry and NGOs to be better prepared to respond to oiled wildlife incidents. Sea Alarm provides training and helps initiate and assist with round table discussions on response plan development. Over time, the team has developed skills, insight and experience that can be applied on a global scale to enhance wildlife response planning.
Sea Alarm has already facilitated wildlife response discussions and planning processes for many European countries, including Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands. It has assisted Belgium in writing its national oiled wildlife response plan, and advices an increasing number of oil companies on their corporate or in-country oiled wildlife planning and preparedness.
Sea Alarm’s advocacy has led to many positive changes at the national and international level. In Europe, it has encouraged and inspired international processes which are increasing stakeholder awareness of the need to prepare for oiled wildlife incidents. More and more countries and regions are integrating response to oiled wildlife into their contingency plans. Sea Alarm also regularly attends oil spill meetings and conferences, reinforcing the importance of planning and training for wildlife response within overall spill response activities.
Guidance documents, handbooks and Country Wildlife Response Profiles
Sea Alarm brings stakeholders with different expertise and backgrounds together, coordinating these working groups during the process of creating handbooks and guidelines for oiled wildlife response. For example, with co-funding from various sources (oil industry, EU) and with many partners, Sea Alarm helped to facilitate the development and delivery of IPIECA’s 2004 Guide to Oiled Wildlife Response Planning, IPIECA/OGP’s 2015 Good Practice Guide on Oiled Wildlife Preparedness, The Handbook on Oil Impact Assessment, The Handbook on Good Practice for the Rehabilitation of Oiled Birds in the Aftermath of an Oil Spill Incident, European Oiled Wildlife Response Plan, and the protocol Animal care during an oiled wildlife response.
Sea Alarm also initiated the development of the central resource website oiledwildlife.eu, which it hosts, where lots of technical information has been put together and from which additional information can be downloaded. In recent years, Sea Alarm was a key participant in the development of the POSOW project and information website and helped to develop a training course for first responders. Currently within the EU co-funded EUROWA Module Project, Sea Alarm and its partners is developing training courses for advanced responders and wildlife response managers.
One of Sea Alarm’s most effective and practical preparedness actions has been the development of Country Wildlife Response Profiles, which provide immediate access to comprehensive information on oiled wildlife response preparedness in targeted coastal countries When an oil spill occurs, this database provides Sea Alarm with instant information regarding key players and the level of preparedness of national stakeholders. Using this data, Sea Alarm can advise on equipment needs and personnel priorities for the response.
Linking key industry organisations and oiled wildlife response experts
Everything Sea Alarm does depends on personal contacts and the networks it is constantly promoting and expanding. Sea Alarm has developed close relationships with key players in the maritime and oil industries in addition to its connections in the oiled wildlife response community. This enables it to quickly identify international resources that can be mobilized to support a response anywhere in the world.
It is also important that key organisations regularly meet each other. To this end Sea Alarm organised conferences in 2000, 2001, 2004, and 2007, offering a platform for European responders, governments and industry to exchange thoughts on the state of preparedness in Europe, evaluate recent responses, and define emerging priorities. In 2009 Sea Alarm was co-organiser of the 10th International Effects of Oil on Wildlife Conference bringing this key global wildlife response meeting to Europe for the second time in its history.
Regular participation in the three major oil industry conferences (Interspill in Europe, SpillCon in the Asia-Pacific region, and the International Oil Spill Conference in North America) keeps the wildlife aspect of oil spill response in the industry’s sights. Sea Alarm also supports the development of international expert networks and ensures that information and knowledge is shared.