Effective response to oil affected wildlife requires coordinated interactions between a variety of wildlife rescue and conservation NGOs, industry and governments, and each of these stakeholders has specific concerns and goals.
For years, Sea Alarm has been working closely with many such groups in many countries and understands the particular needs and requirements under which they operate. Sea Alarm can operate as a neutral, impartial facilitator between these groups, and is often able lead them into positive, constructive discussions to develop a consensus on critical issues regarding the planning of oiled wildlife emergency response.
Assisting with strategy and planning
The first step in the process is to help everyone to understand the joint objectives in a response and the specific role(s) that the different parties are able to fulfill. Once that common ground and language has been defined, stakeholders often find it easier to reach out to utilise the services of their natural partners, exchange information and develop workable solutions to difficult scenarios, based on a better understanding of each stakeholders’ limitations.Ideally this first step is taken before response planning is initiated as this will result in a response plan that is more likely to be accepted by all parties. Sea Alarm has many years experience in facilitating response planning in a variety of situations and can bring concepts from other, similar situations to the table during (pre-) planning sessions.
Linking key industry organisations and oiled wildlife response experts
Everything Sea Alarm does depends on personal contacts and the networks it is constantly promoting and expanding. Sea Alarm has developed close relationships with key players in the maritime and oil industries in addition to its connections in the oiled wildlife response community. This enables it to quickly identify international resources that can be mobilized to support a response anywhere in the world.
It is also important that key organisations regularly meet each other. To this end Sea Alarm organised conferences in 2000, 2001, 2004, and 2007, offering a platform for European responders, governments and industry to exchange thoughts on the state of preparedness in Europe, evaluate recent responses, and define emerging priorities. In 2009 Sea Alarm was co-organiser of the 10th International Effects of Oil on Wildlife Conference bringing this key global wildlife response meeting to Europe for the second time in its history.
Regular participation in the three major oil industry conferences (Interspill in Europe, SpillCon in the Asia-Pacific region, and the International Oil Spill Conference in North America) keeps the wildlife aspect of oil spill response in the industry’s sights. Sea Alarm also supports the development of international expert networks and ensures that information and knowledge is shared.
Providing training and exercises to hone skills
Once the objectives and strategy for a response plan are in place, efforts can concentrate on identifying and filling gaps, in terms of equipment, facilities and human resources. Sea Alarm has developed an array of training and exercise modules that will help individuals, organisations and response teams to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and experience.
To this end, Sea Alarms cooperates with leading oiled wildlife response organisations and industry, with the goal of providing truly international, widely accepted standards of care that will result in the profession of oiled wildlife response being recognised on a higher level.
Sea Alarm and its partners are continuously developing materials, including table top exercises, field exercises, instruction manuals, visuals, and simulation software, to create a realistic picture of what the key challenges are and how to deal with them.
In particular, one set of the training and exercise modules Sea Alarm has developed concentrates on improving the operational skills of officers who will take management positions, and who together must make things work during an incident response. These officers are ideally trained and exercised together so that they can develop experience as a team.
Assisting with coordination during an actual response
During an actual oiled wildlife response Sea Alarm can be mobilised to help assess the situation, provide input on ways forward based on previous experience, coordinate joint stakeholder meetings or decision-making processes, and activate international assistance where appropriate. These services allow those involved directly in the response to better focus on the work at hand and at the same time have an experienced coach/adviser readily available when needed.