On 14th February, an estimated 500-1000 tonnes of oil spilled out into the Celtic Sea, close to where the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was refuelling, threatening the Irish and Welsh coastlines. The Irish Marine Department described the spill as the biggest spill to hit the area in a decade. Although no oiled birds were found washed up on the shorelines, mainly because the spill occurred so far off shore, experts believe that seabirds must have been affected as high densities of wintering birds are normally found in the area.
In response to the spill, Sea Alarm contacted the Irish Seal Sanctuary, the RSPCA and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and stood ready to help coordinate response activities, if required. As a wildlife contingency plan does not yet exist in Ireland, Sea Alarm worked with the Irish Seal Sanctuary to draw up a temporary, incident-specific plan. Now that the issue of preparedness has been raised in Ireland again, there is renewed hope that this will lead to further discussions to develop an integrated oiled wildlife contingency plan.
Photos courtesy of Maritime and Coastguard Agency