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What’s on in 2010 for oiled wildlife response in the Netherlands

Sea Alarm will continue to assist the Netherlands in 2010 with maintaining their national preparedness for oiled wildlife incidents. An important activity scheduled for this year is a tabletop exercise to test the function of the key roles in the plan’s crisis committee, which is responsible for setting up and running the temporary oiled wildlife rehabilitation centre during an incident.

Another activity scheduled for this year will be a training session of staff from the oil spill response authorities (Rijkswaterstaat) on oiled wildlife response and rehabilitation, demonstrating their commitment to this activity. This training will be organised by the national network of oiled bird rehabilitators (SON), made up of five seabird rehabilitation centres in the Netherlands and one in Belgium.

Sea Alarm acts as advisor to the Dutch authorities and response groups, having worked closely with them to develop and maintain the national plan, which was signed in April 2009. As one of the few European countries with a formalised national plan in place, the Netherlands keeps its plan healthy through a structured program of training and exercises. A considerable budget of €150,000 over the period 2010-2015 has been reserved for the programme. This helps to raise the level of expertise and develop strategic partnerships between response authorities, municipalities, rehabilitation organisations and scientific institutions.

In order to deal well with wildlife at risk during a pollution incident, the Netherlands recently have asked scientists to condense all available information on seasonal seabird distributions into a series of 6 operational maps, each covering 2 months of the year. The maps are based on the ICES grid and predict the relative abundancy of vulnerable seabirds in each cell during a certain time of the year. A pollution incident occuring in an area of high sensitivity will immediately launch the oiled wildlife response plan.

A laudable initiative and an international example of good practice!

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