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Despite COVID,  A Productive Year For Preparedness In The Netherlands

Despite COVID, a productive year for preparedness in the Netherlands

Sea Alarm’s coordination of preparedness building in the Netherlands saw the development of a new national wildlife response plan and further strengthening of the NGO network governance. 

A main target in the long term preparedness programme that Sea Alarm manages in the Netherlands has been the update of the national 2009 oiled bird response plan (known as “SBV 1.0”). This update is based on insights and highlights from the 2012-2016 preparedness programme, the experience of the 2018 Bow Jubail incident and the reorganisation and new responsibilities of ministries, local or regional authorities. Sea Alarm’s Hugo Nijkamp took the lead role in the writing process, together with Sea Alarm contractor Simone Jay, in close consultation with Rijkswaterstaat, the owner of the plan.

The updated plan, SBV 2.0, was delivered in October, and went into a consultative process in which principle stakeholders provided their comments. Limited comments were received and the expectation is that the final draft of the plan will be approved in January 2021. The updated plan will form the basis for informative courses, webinars and exercises to familiarise all key stakeholders with the new setup and identified roles and responsibilities. Training and exercises will involve all key actors in furthering their skills, taking the principles of the plan and putting them into practice in a range of exercise scenarios. The updated national plan, which is endorsed by Rijkswaterstaat and the licensing authorities, explicitly adopts EUROWA standards as the standards to work from in an oiled bird response.

In parallel with the writing process, Hugo and Simone have continued strengthening the NGO SON-Respons to become the organisation that, from summer 2022 onwards, can take over responsibility for the long-term preparedness programme from Sea Alarm. The SON-Respons Board has been expanded and is preparing to accept the contractual and organisational responsibility for managing the multi-year programme from 2022-2026 .

Also, significant progress has been made in building a consolidated national network of wildlife response centres, that cooperate on the basis of EUROWA standards. Historically 5 specialist centres have been working together on oiled wildlife issues in the Netherlands since 2003, including the Belgian Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend (WRCO). Via SON-Respons membership, all Dutch centres are part of the EUROWA Network, as is WRCO in its own right.

In autumn, an additional four rehabilitation centres joined this national network, bringing it to nine members. Those nine centres have drafted and signed a Charter which formalises the network and adopts EUROWA standards as the ones to be applied in an oiled wildlife response.

SON-Respons acts as the network’s secretariat and coordinator and provides the structural link between the national network and the international EUROWA Network. Simone has already taken on the role of SON-Respons coordinator, while still under contract with Sea Alarm. In the future she will join SON-Respons directly, to formally head the organisation.

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