In June 2019, EURopean Oiled Wildlife Assistance (EUROWA) Network members, and interested potential members, met in Ostende to strengthen their cooperation and define the decision-making structure which will support EUROWA’s function in European oil spill response and preparedness.
In conjunction with the Summit, a team of experts inspected and made plans for repairs, replacements and upgrades to the EUROWA equipment stockpile, which is done on a regular basis and will now benefit from lessons learned during its use during the Bow Jubail oil spill response in 2018.
The Summit brought together representatives from leading NGOs in ten coastal European countries to develop a Charter which more clearly defines the decision-making process for cooperation within EUROWA. Using the Charter as its base, the affiliated NGOs aim to provide a stronger basis for their international cooperation and for outreach to authorities in European countries when assisting them in adopting the EUROWA standards of good practice.
Hugo Nijkamp of Sea Alarm began the meeting by giving an overview of EUROWA’s history, the current project, and the possibilities for the future. Each attending NGO then presented on their organisation’s perspectives and current country status on wildlife preparedness and response.
This was followed by an introduction to the EUROWA Charter, which will become part of the EUROWA Standards. Participants agreed that national and regional authorities bear the responsibility for the development of wildlife response plans and preparedness programmes, and that the Charter developed by EUROWA could be a valuable tool in encouraging those authorities to solidify their plans and procedures in partnership with NGOs who are committed to working according to the EUROWA standards of good practice.
The network is also looking to develop a new strategy for national and international communication which would emphasize the need for plans and preparation prior to an oiled wildlife incident, as the public demands response to impacted animals and will take action themselves, particularly when response by authorities and trained responders is delayed.
Participants in the Summit included the Associated Organisations, who have signed an MoU with Sea Alarm (on behalf of the existing network):
- Oiled Wildlife Network Ireland (IE),
- ProBird (DE),
- SON-Respons (NL),
- Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend (BE), and
- WWF-Finland (FI)
- And organisations considering Associated Organisation status:
- Estonian Fund for Nature/ELF (EE),
- Oniris (FR),
- RSPCA (UK),
- Submon (ES), and
- WWF-Poland (PL)