In October 2017, the HELCOM Expert Working Group on Oiled Wildlife Response organized a three-day event which included a working group meeting, wildlife response manager training and a stakeholder exchange of current activities and good practices.
The event, held at the HELCOM Secretariat in Helsinki, was attended by four country delegations (some of which included authorities and NGOs), the HELCOM Secretariat and Sea Alarm.
Of the main European Regional Sea Agreements, HELCOM is without a doubt the most advanced in terms of oiled wildlife risk awareness, if measured by the number of agreed and published materials and initiatives in the core of the cooperative system that is overseen by HELCOM RESPONSE. Sea Alarm currently holds the chair of the Expert Working Group on Oiled Wildlife Response (EWG-OWR) formed by HELCOM RESPONSE to oversee the concerted development of oiled wildlife response preparedness by each of the Contracting Parties (for more information see HELCOM Response EWG-OWR).
During the regional exchange, delegations from Germany, Finland and Poland highlighted their response preparedness, showing that structures and cooperation are in place, and in some countries fruitful cooperation between governmental agencies and NGOs is demonstrated via training, exercises and regular meetings. The manager’s training by Sea Alarm was well received and highlighted for many attendees the complexity of some wildlife scenarios and the need to be prepared as part of a wider oil spill response. The course provided tools and insights as to some key elements of effective integrated wildlife management.
The ninth meeting of the EWG-OWR, which closed the event, was the first that was set up as an in-person meeting, with a few participants joining electronically via SKYPE. The importance of having an oiled wildlife response plan in place together with focused training and exercise opportunities for authorities and NGOs was highlighted by the EWG-OWR. One of the topics the EWG-OWR will focus on in its next meetings is the development of good practice guidelines for (mass) euthanasia and learning from experiences in countries such as Denmark.