Sea Alarm and WWF Finland organised an international workshop on oiled wildlife response planning for countries bordering the Baltic Sea. The workshop took place in Tallinn on 5 October 2009, back to back with the Effects of Oil on Wildlife Conference which allowed participants to take advantage of both events. The Estonian Ministry of Environment hosted the workshop, which was attended by 20 participants, including 16 delegates from 6 Baltic Sea Countries. The main objective of the workshop was to familiarise participants with the elements of an oiled wildlife response and the various steps of a planning process.
In the morning several presentations were given, firstly by Monika Stankiewicz of the Helcom Secretariat, who brought the delegates up to speed with the recent international developments under the Helsinki Convention. Sea Alarm’s Hugo Nijkamp then introduced the participants to the various aspects of oiled wildlife response and planning and Michael Ziccardi of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network provided an in-depth overview of the advanced structure for oiled wildlife response and planning that has been set up in California, US. Finally, Timo Asanti (Finnish Environment Institute) and Tanja Pirinen (WWF) presented the preparedness in Finland, with emphasis on the wildlife response unit and the structural cooperation between authorities and NGOs.
In the afternoon a Sea Alarm table top exercise simulated some different steps that need to be taken in a national planning process.The “nutshell” response plan that each of the 6 country delegations produced during the exercise was evaluated in plenary with a simulated oil spill incident. The exercise showed that the Baltic has many vulnerable and remote areas, which will complicate the response if oiled wildlife incidents would take place there. Cooperation between countries of the Baltic with regards to oiled wildlife response and preparedness should be an important objective of national planning processes. These processes are urgently needed as none of the Baltic countries currently has a wildlife response plan in place.
The positive feedback that participants gave at the end of the day demonstrated that the workshop had deepened their insight. The presentations given in the morning had provided lots of new information and the exercise in the afternoon had clearly demonstrated how useful it is to have an integrated wildlife response plan in place. The workshop report is available here.