On 7 and 8 October, Sea Alarm was invited by the Estonian Ministry of Environment to deliver a face-to-face national training course about oiled wildlife response as part of the EU-funded Interreg OIL SPILL Project dedicated to the Baltic Sea Region.
Over 14 representatives of Estonian authorities (Environmental Board, Police & Border Guard, Rescue Board and Ministry of Environment) as well as a local NGO (the Estonian Fund for Nature or ELF) gathered to know more about the national oiled wildlife response plan and their respective roles in terms of in-country preparedness and response in case of emergency situation impacting wildlife.
The training provided an overview of the effects of oil on wildlife and the concept of oiled wildlife response objectives as well as existing experience and tools available to build-up in-country preparedness. The training also stressed the importance of better integrating wildlife in the overall emergency system management and considering the tiered response approach in terms of expertise and equipment. To this extinct the participants were introduced to the role and services that the EUROWA network can provide to governments in Europe.
During this 2-day course the participants had the opportunity to interact with each other during table top exercises dealing with oiled wildlife response scenarios along the Estonian coastline, using role plays to set up the appropriate response strategy. These active learning sessions led the participants to brainstorm on oil spill scenarios and improved their understanding of the importance of being prepared to deal with oil spills but also emphasised that risks for wildlife can happen anywhere in Estonian waters hosting ecologically sensitive areas for wildlife, mainly birds.
The outcomes of the meeting will be important information to be considered in the on-going process to update the national oiled wildlife response plan.