A new oiled wildlife preparedness project, which builds on the previously EU-funded European Oiled Wildlife Response Assistance (EUROWA) training and preparedness programme, is underway.
Funding from Aramco’s Citizenship Programme will enable an effective roll-out of this new EUROWA project, which will serve as a one-year pilot to test and inform a longer-term expansion of the programme.
A EUROWA-focused debrief of last year’s wildlife response to the Bow Jubail spill in Rotterdam, NL, in which national and international responders worked together to successfully rehabilitate and release over 500 oiled swans. served as a kick-off for the 2019 preparedness project and a reminder of the value of these preparedness developments in Europe when such incidents occur.
The debrief, hosted by EUROWA partner organisation the Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend, explored lessons learned from the response and developed recommendations for the continual improvement of the EUROWA animal care protocols and response procedures.
The meeting also brought attendees up to speed on a number of oiled wildlife response preparedness projects including the Global Oiled Wildlife Response System (GOWRS), SON-RESPONS in the Netherlands, and progress at the HELCOM (Baltic) and OTSOPA (North Sea and Northeast Atlantic) Regional Agreements level.
The Aramco funding enables the EUROWA project to provide four training events that will increase the number of individuals who can be mobilized as part of an international wildlife response team. The first of these courses will be a EUROWA Veterinarian SPECIALIST training in Ostend, Belgium in early April 2019.
The funding also allows the realisation of a governance meeting between the organisations who are partnering in EUROWA, as well as aspirant partner organisations, to discuss how the EUROWA network can become more structured and more visible to end users such as European governments. Another activity in the current project will be the maintenance and expansion of the EUROWA equipment stocks, which are vital to rapid, effective response to oil impacted wildlife.
In 2017-18, Aramco Citizenship provided funding to Sea Alarm to initiate the ‘European marine wildlife preparedness assessment program’ which aimed to further EU policy strategies on national and international emergency preparedness for sea turtles, marine mammals and seabirds through a series of multi-stakeholder workshops in Spain, France and Germany.
EUROWA was initiated via an EU co-funded project (2015-2016) in which a group of leading oiled wildlife response organisations (all European NGOs) collaborated on the development of tools and a system to create a higher level of preparedness for the response to oiled wildlife incidents in Europe. A series of training courses, manuals, and role specific exercises are now available to educate the full range of responders, from volunteers and advanced responders, up to specialists and management staff.