EP Arctic Report: Oiled wildlife response plans should be developed

Photo credit: NOAA (www.arctic.noaa.gov/maps.html)

The European Parliament (EP) Resolution of 16 March 2017, An integrated EU policy for the Arctic (2016/2228(INI)), includes wording suggested by Sea Alarm encouraging all Arctic states to develop oiled wildlife response plans.

 

By including it in their policy report, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have made a strong statement that preventing impacts on Arctic wildlife and being prepared to respond to affected animals is important to the European Union. Managing these risks is a focus area of the Arctic Council, “the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection”.

The European Parliament includes MEPs from three countries which are Members of the Arctic Council: Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. An additional seven EU Member States (France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom) hold Observer status on the Arctic Council.

The opportunity to provide suggested text to the resolution was identified by ADS Insight, experts in EU policy and institutions. ADS assists Sea Alarm by flagging up opportunities in European policy discussions to advance wildlife response preparedness. Point 28 of the Resolution states that the European Parliament:

Calls for the development of oiled wildlife response plans, in accordance with defined good practice, in all Arctic states, including an effective assessment of vulnerable species at risk, as well as feasible prevention and response strategies to ensure their protection;

Sea Alarm recognises that a response to oiled wildlife is difficult under Arctic conditions where severe weather, pack ice, long periods of low light and remote locations make finding, capturing, and treating impacted animals challenging. However, wildlife may be the most important resource that is at risk from oil spills in the Arctic. So far little has been done to discuss this issue and to agree on response options (monitoring, euthanasia, rescue, public communication) that a spiller or a responsible government could consider in order to deal with animal welfare and public concerns under these conditions. Developing integrated and area specific wildlife response plans is the way forward and should go hand in hand with R&D investments and training of specialised wildlife response staff. Acknowledging these issues and developing national and international strategies will be necessary to ensure the best possible outcome for wildlife in the event of an oil spill.

Sea Alarm welcomes this recommendation and is pleased to know that Europe continues to actively support preparedness measures, particularly in this very sensitive environment.