EUROWA network granted observer status at the Bonn Agreement
We are delighted to announce that the Bonn Agreement has further cemented its commitment to oiled wildlife preparedness and response issues by granting observer status to the EUROWA network. This was approved at the Bonn Agreement meeting on 22-23rd September, meaning that the EUROWA network can now attend relevant meetings of the Bonn Agreement to speak up on oiled wildlife preparedness and response issues.
To date, oiled wildlife response interests have been informally represented at the Bonn Agreement by Sea Alarm, who holds the Secretariat of EUROWA. Sea Alarm has helped raise awareness of the oiled wildlife issue for North Sea countries by regularly attending meetings of the Working Group on Operational, Technical and Scientific Questions concerning Counter-Pollution Activities (OTSOPA). This began at an OTSOPA meeting back in 2003, where Sea Alarm highlighted that the threat to wildlife from marine pollution incidents should be taken into account in Contracting Parties’ national oil spill contingency plans. After consideration, the North Sea States later agreed that adequate wildlife response is an important issue for the Bonn Agreement and that Contracting Parties should begin reporting to OTSOPA on incident responses involving wildlife. In 2009, a chapter on oiled wildlife response was included in the Bonn Agreement Counter Pollution Manual (see Chapter 34 which was recently updated), detailing important concepts for managing an oiled wildlife incident and how this should be taken into consideration for national oiled wildlife response plans.
Since EUROWA was created in 2016 as a formal mutual assistance initiative for European oiled wildlife response, it seems only logical that EUROWA should now be visible and active at European regional agreement level. With this observer status being granted, EUROWA/Sea Alarm now have formal relationships with all the three main Regional Agreements in Europe – the Bonn Agreement, the Helsinki Convention (where Sea Alarm holds observer status) and the Barcelona Convention (Sea Alarm holds an MoU with REMPEC to be part of the Mediterranean Assistance Unit). This provides EUROWA with a voice to keep the issue of oiled wildlife response on the table for governments discussing their oil spill preparedness, helping to develop best practice policies and tools that guide an oiled wildlife response and how to best integrate EUROWA assistance as part of a national oiled wildlife response plan. Sea Alarm and EUROWA look forward to continuing these partnerships with European governments in the future.