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EUROWA’s first training course for seabird scientists

An online workshop, using a combination of theory presentations, instruction videos, and an interactive tabletop exercise using the Mural online collaboration platform, gave a group of European seabird scientists insight into their potential role in an emergency response involving seabirds.

The April 20-21, 2022 workshop, organized and facilitated by EUROWA-2 project coordinator Sea Alarm, was delivered by Kees Camphuysen of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Royal NIOZ) and Hugo Nijkamp of Sea Alarm. Geared toward scientists involved in disciplines such as population biology, ornithology, and ecology, the EUROWA Risk and Impact Assessment course focuses on the development of skills needed to carry out risk assessment, and to prepare, structure, manage and report on impact assessment of a population.

Whether human-related or natural, when marine environmental emergencies resulting from oil spills, harmful algal blooms, food shortages (often called seabird wrecks), diseases and other incidents occur, scientists are needed to assess the damage, as well as to provide reliable information as to wildlife species that may be present and what areas would require priority protection for local populations. In prolonged incidents, scientists may also be asked to help determine the likelihood of changes in the abundance of wildlife in impacted areas.

During the course, 11 attendees from 9 countries learned about the threats facing seabirds, past cases of oil spills and other events leading to mass mortalities; and through the review of past incidents, what impact assessment work was carried out and what challenges each situation presented.

As the online format did not allow for hands-on activities, a set of instructional videos (created by a professional filmmaker) showed participants how to set up and equip a lab for post-mortem analysis, methods and procedures for carrying out impact assessments on a number of seabird species, and how to find further information which is now available in the newest addition to the EUROWA standards series: Part H: Oil impact assessment handbook.

The tabletop exercises included a rapid assessment of risk to different species groups in various European regional seas areas and an activity which helped the participants prioritise scientific tasks and determine which would not be able to be done on the spot, thus need to be included in planning actions. There was also a discussion on how and where international collaboration by the scientific community might be useful.

A valuable addition to the EUROWA training portfolio, the course spotlights the value of bringing the scientific discipline into marine emergencies, an important, but often overlooked, aspect of response to oiled wildlife. A second, in-person course is planned for late September.

If you are interested to attend a EUROWA training course, or to organise one in your country please contact the EUROWA Secretariat.

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