In October 2018, Sea Alarm led the final workshop in a series exploring issues needing to be addressed to improve response to a variety of emergencies involving marine mammals.
The Aramco-sponsored European marine wildlife preparedness assessment series, which addressed marine turtles in the first workshop and marine birds in the second, is an initial step toward understanding the potential dangers, from climate change to anthropogenic impacts, these animals face throughout Europe. The marine mammal workshop, kindly hosted by Cedre in Brest, brought a variety of experts from the areas of rescue and rehabilitation, research, and regulatory backgrounds together to hone in on where the gaps in knowledge and response capabilities are.
While European countries have extensive experience in responding to oiled bird incidents, and are developing cooperative endeavors to improve response throughout the region, the same is not true for marine mammals. Ways of increasing formal cooperation, beyond the present, informal exchange that occurs between parties in various countries was one of the focuses of this workshop.
Through a variety of formats the group looked at the current and emerging threats, which are growing in number and intensity, these species face. The ethical dilemmas presented in responding to large marine mammals who, for the most part, cannot be taken into care were explored, as was the role that traditional and social media play when governments and other decision makers face a difficult stranding situation.
A key conclusion of the workshop was the need to include additional marine mammal experts and organisations who were not represented at the workshop, but who would be important contributors to the potential development of a formal stranding and response network throughout Europe.
Results of the three of workshops will be presented to European authorities and used to develop a series of next step proposals.