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Within Europe and since 2006, EU and private funding has allowed us to deliver a range of projects which have helped to improve knowledge, increase response capacity and cooperation in working toward more effective oiled wildlife response.

EUROWA-2 (2021-22)

The latest phase of funding is for the EUROWA-2 project.

Aramco (2018-2020)

Sea Alarm received a donation from Aramco’s Citizenship Programme for a two year project enabling an effective roll-out of the EUROWA training and preparedness programme. The project served as a one-year pilot to test and inform a longer-term expansion of the programme, while also enabling immediate advancements in response readiness through the following components:

  • Four training events that increased the number of individuals that can be mobilised as part of an international wildlife response team:
    • Two Basic courses
    • Advanced training course
    • Managers event
  • Equipment expansion and maintenance:
    • Investment into field equipment including personal ‘go bags’ that allow for first-wave responders to be mobilised with essential safety and capture equipment.
    • Investment into training equipment allowing responders to undertake field exercises that help simulate response operations such as field stabilisation and capture of oiled animals.
    • Inspection and maintenance check of equipment stockpile.
  • Advancing national preparedness processes in three European countries through national workshops and training/exercise events for authorities and NGOs. Workshops were aimed at initiating discussions on national processes that would lead to structural investments into planning and preparedness. All three events (held in Poland, Ireland and Spain) were successful in bringing key stakeholders together, with commitments to beginning more formal discussions on improving oiled wildlife preparedness.
  • A summit meeting of EUROWA network experts to discuss network Governance, resulting in formalisation of the EUROWA Charter, a shared declaration that describes the vision, mission and purpose of the network and how it operates
  • A meeting to review and evaluate the experience of the Bow Jubail incident in the the Netherlands in 2018, where the EUROWA network were mobilised as an international response team. Participants explored lessons learned from the response via a structured evaluation method and developed recommendations for improving the EUROWA animal care protocols and response procedures.

EUROWA (2015-16)

The main objective of the EUROWA project  was to establish an international Module (according to European Commission terminology), consisting of a team of oiled wildlife response experts and a stockpile of critical equipment, both of which can be rapidly mobilised by European governments in the event of an oil spill. The project developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and a portfolio of centralised training packages that would enable wildlife response experts from any Member State to become qualified members of the Module. Development of the Module therefore provided a professional infrastructure for leading NGOs in every European country to be trained, allowing to improve in-country capabilities and the possibility to scale up a local incident up to international level via mobilising trained capabilities from the EUROWA network.


  • Sea Alarm Foundation (coordinator)
  • Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend, Belgium
  • ProBird, Germany
  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), UK
  • WWF Finland, Finland
  • Tim Thomas, independent wildlife consultant
  • Estonian Fund for Nature, Estonia
  • Centre Vétérinaire de la Faune Sauvage et des Écosystèmes (CVFSE), France.


  • Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the new Module, according to DG Echo guidelines and international standards for oiled wildlife response and preparedness.
  • Portfolio of professional oiled wildlife responder training packages that are used to develop the skills and knowledge of European experts from various countries to qualify them to become members of the EUROWA Module. A range of Manuals and Handbooks were developed to accompany the training courses, which form the backbone of today’s EUROWA Standards series.
  • Ensured continuation of European expert wildlife responder exchange meetings and expansion of the network.
  • Provision of centralised training courses to the project team and interested organisations and individuals from Member States to allow the Module to draw from a considerable number of experts from different countries. The training courses can be utilised on an ongoing basis, which allows for expansion of the Module’s pool of experts and can help to boost national capabilities for oiled wildlife response. Pilot courses delivered during this phase included:
    • Two team member training events.
    • Advanced oiled wildlife responder event.
    • Veterinary course event.
    • Managers course event.
    • Specialist training event (selected Field Modules).
  • Database to keep track of people being trained on the basis of the new material and ensure a central register in order to maintain quality objectives.
  • Maintenance programme for a European stockpile of oiled wildlife response equipment, also ensuring the availability and mobilisation of that stockpile for incidents.
  • Availability of the new EUROWA Module through the European Commission’s Civil Protection Mechanism to European Member States and any eligible requesting country.

POSOW (2012-13)

The objective of the POSOW (Preparedness for Oil-polluted shoreline cleanup and oiled wildlife interventions) project was to enhance knowledge and capacities of operators (professionals and volunteers) in the field of marine pollution, in European coastal countries of the Mediterranean Sea. The project partners developed 4 training packages for volunteers to assist in an oil spill situation, of which one package was dedicated to oiled wildlife response. That package produced a Manual for volunteers and an associated training course, designed to help volunteers to understand and implement field operations and first-aid care of oiled wildlife within an authority led system. The POSOW Manual and training course have become part of today’s EUROWA training portfolio and Standards series.

The project was funded under the EU Civil Protection Financial Instrument

EMPOWER (2009)

In 2009, EU funding was secured to develop the EMPOWER network, via an Operating Grant under the Financial Instrument for the Environment LIFE+ programme.

EMPOWER stands for European Management Programme for Oiled Wildlife and other marine wildlife Emergency Responses. The initiative was designed as a means of developing tools and mechanisms allowing NGOs to develop their expertise together in being prepared for responding to oiled wildlife incidents.

In 2009 the EMPOWER network was created including setting up a Steering Group, defining membership rules and opening the membership. The network was also launched at the 2009 Effects of Oil on Wildlife Conference in Tallinn, Estonia. Although the EMPOWER network could not continue its activities in the longer term as the funding was of a one-off nature, the spirit and philosophy behind EMPOWER has been incorporated into today’s EUROWA activities.

EnSaCo (2009-12)

The main objective of the Environment and Safety Management Cooperation on Shoreline Oil Spill Response (EnSaCo Oil Spill project) was to raise the level of expertise and to intensify cross-border shoreline response cooperation between authorities and NGOs in Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Russia.

The project had five work packages, of which one was dedicated to oiled wildlife response:

  • WP1 Project management and coordination.
  • WP2 Developing efficient tools for cross-border shoreline oil spill response management.
  • WP3 Developing and training oiled wildlife response.
  • WP4 Developing and training practical cross-border shoreline oil spill response.
  • WP5 Developing and organising a management level learning arena (seminars and workshops) for shoreline oil spill response and communication with stakeholders.

EnSaCo was financed under the Central Baltic INTERREG IV A Programme 2007-2013, a European territorial co-operation programme funding cross-border projects in the central Baltic Sea area – consisting of parts of Estonia, Finland (incl. Åland), Latvia and Sweden.

RIOS (2007-08)

The RIOS (Reducing the Impact of Oil Spills) project’s primary goal was to develop an action plan for future research on oiled wildlife response and preparedness, and to stimulate contacts and future co-operation between scientists, wildlife responders, oil industry and governmental organisations.

The project brought together experts in the areas of European wildlife population biology and oiled wildlife response. They began the process by creating the RIOS Background Document which identified  present state-of-the-art knowledge in the field of oiled wildlife response and defined priorities for research needed to further that knowledge. The document included literature reviews in the areas of oil vulnerability indices (OVI), seabird distribution in European waters, state of oiled wildlife rehabilitation and post-release survival data.

At a workshop in Albufeira, Portugal in April 2008, scientists came together to discuss the background document and research concerning oil spills and their effects on wildlife. The workshop also offered the unique opportunity for individuals and organisations actively involved in oiled wildlife response and rehabilitation to help identify further research priorities. Researchers were able to discuss options for collaboration and so avoid duplication of work.

The priorities identified in this process formed the basis for a European Action Plan proposing further steps for oiled wildlife research. The plan was submitted to the European Commission and for use in the development of European research policy. The RIOS website provides further information.


  • Nordeconsult
  • ZooMarine
  • Sea Alarm Foundation


  • April 2007 – October 2008


  • RIOS Project Background Document, a compilation of current knowledge on many aspects of oiled wildlife response.
  • RIOS Action Plan submitted to the European Commission to provide guidance on future research priorities for improving response to wildlife threatened by oil spills.

European Oiled Wildlife Response Planning (2006-07)

The overall objective of this project was to initiate the exchange of information and experiences between Member States to develop a set of tools and a draft international response plan by which Member States, individually and/or jointly, could achieve a higher state of preparedness for oiled wildlife incidents.
A preliminary assessment was conducted at the start of the project to determine the existing infrastructure, views and needs of Member States and trasnformed into a series of discussion documents. A European Oiled Wildlife Response Planning workshop, led by Sea Alarm, followed on 12-15 June 2006 at the Centre de Documentation, de Recherche et d’Expérimentations sur les Pollutions Accidentelles des Eaux (Cedre) in Brest, France.

The workshop provided a unique opportunity to bring together authorities from European coastal states to share lessons learnt from past oiled wildlife incidents and explore national and international solutions for effective preparedness for future incidents in Europe. Representatives from 14 countries attended, including authorities responsible for oil spill management and animal welfare issues and recognised NGOs.

One of the main workshop conclusions was that the level of preparedness in Europe could be improved. A number of recommendations were agreed, including making effective pre-spill arrangements at national levels. Based on the workshop outcomes, as well as the impact assessment and rehabilitation projects, a European Oiled Wildlife Response Plan was drafted.

The plan is a strategic document identifying potential opportunities and listing a number of objectives and activities that that could be adopted and carried out at national, regional and international (European or global) levels.  It identifies the need for proper planning to implement these activities effectively and according to best practices. The document was presented to national governments and at each relevant international platform (e.g. European Commission, Helsinki Convention, Bonn Agreement, Barcelona Convention and Copenhagen Agreement).

Project partners:

  • Sea Alarm (lead)
  • Centre de Documentation, de Recherche et d’Expérimentations sur les Pollutions Accidentelles des Eaux (CEDRE)
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
  • Istituto centrale per la ricerca scientifica e tecnologica applicata al mare (ICRAM)
  • Finnish Environment Institute (SKYE)
  • International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF)
  • Oil Spill Response


February 2006 – August 2007


  • A better understanding of the different views, experience and capacities of Member States.
  • Development of a common language and better understanding of the specific problems associated with oiled wildlife incidents by delegates from competent authorities, industry and NGOs across Europe.
  • Identification of existing international documentation on preparedness, response capacity, planning and strategy, scientific activities, etc. Where possible this information was brought together and published on the website (forerunner of this site).
  • Development of a European Oiled Wildlife Response Plan that facilitates the quick sourcing and deployment of expertise, equipment and other resources in the case of future oil spill emergencies.

Seabird Population Impact Assessment (2006-07)

The main objective of this project was the development of the Handbook on Seabird Population Impact Assessment. A scientific workshop, held in La Coruña, Spain in September 2006, began the process. At that workshop, scientists from across Europe discussed the approach to this Handbook, identifying the main issues involved in integrating impact assessment into oiled wildlife response and the wider oil spill response. The workshop goal was to define best practices for collection and necropsy of dead oiled seabirds after an oil spill incident, and for subsequent data analysis. It also examined which seasonal seabird distribution data oil spill managers would need in the early stages of an incident to aid in the environmental protection decision making process.

38 participants attended the workshop, including scientists, regulators and NGOs. Lectures were given on available methodologies to trace the origin of seabirds (e.g. by biometry or genetic fingerprinting); case studies of past spills (Prestige, Tricolor, Erika, Estonia spills); cooperation between NGOs and governments (Canada, UK); international compensation regimes; issues specific to certain regions (Baltic); and structures for international cooperation and exchange.

The main conclusions from the workshop were:

  • Impacts to seabirds from oil spills should be prevented. Ideally, the process would include consultation with scientists during initial incident action planning and the use of data collected pre-spill, including seasonal distribution of vulnerable species.
  • Impact Assessment should be an integrated part of oil spill response planning.
  • In order to make a reliable wildlife population impact assessment, an internationally developed manual or set of guidelines should be developed that can be used to design an adequate, standardised system of data collection and analysis as an integrated part of oil spill response.


  • Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) (lead)
  • University A Coruña
  • Sea Alarm


  • February 2006 – August 2007


Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Workshop and Handbook (2006-07)

This project, led by ZooMarine, brought together European marine wildlife responders from all coastal Member States, Norway and Iceland, to discuss oiled wildlife assistance at a European level. Through a process of sharing methodologies and approaches, the group worked to develop a set of guidelines on the collection, cleaning, rehabilitation of oiled marine animals as an integrated part of an oil spill response. The project therefore marked the start of an important process to increase professionalism amongst expert European groups to improve future oiled wildlife response.

As part of the project, a Workshop on Best Practices for Oiled Wildlife Cleaning and Rehabilitation  took place on 21-23 October 2006 in Albufeira, Portugal. Workshop participants explored the principles of cleaning and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife in an effort to identify best practices that could be made available to wildlife responders throughout Europe.

The workshop programme included a series of lectures, group discussions and a tabletop exercise. Discussions focused on defining animal welfare principles and incorporating those principles into the practice of oiled wildlife rehabilitation, while the tabletop exercise took the group through the decision making process of a typical oiled wildlife rehab centre in the early days of an oil spill incident. A total of 41 participants attended the workshop including regulators, scientists and rehabilitators. The workshop was a means to work towards a common view of animal welfare in relation to oiled bird cleaning and rehabilitation. It also provided an important opportunity to create closer bonds and collegiality within the core group of European expert organisations working in the field of rehabilitation of oiled animals to enhance their future cooperation.

The Handbook for the Rehabilitation of Oiled Birds, an important product of the workshop, was published in May 2007. It provides guidance for wildlife rehabilitators and governmental authorities on best practices with regards to the rescue, cleaning and rehabilitation of oiled birds, especially during large incidents.

Deliberately restricted to less than 30 pages, the Handbook provides principles for rehabilitation rather than detailed methodologies on issues such as search and rescue, transportation, facility setup, health and safety, involvement of volunteers, compensation of costs and animal welfare issues. Useful contact addresses and references to other sources of information are also provided.

The workshop report also identified a series of structural activities by which oiled wildlife responders exchange ideas and improve methodologies, with professional contacts being established between European groups, globally operating oiled wildlife responders and key groups in the field of oil spill response.


  • ZooMarine (lead)
  • Sea Alarm
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
  • Istituto centrale per la ricerca scientifica e tecnologica applicata al mare (ICRAM)

February 2006 – February 2007


  • Development of a shared understanding and awareness of the principles, methodologies and approaches used for cleaning and rehabilitating wildlife under the conditions of an oiled wildlife incident, published in a Handbook.
  • Increased capacity of marine wildlife responders in Europe to deal effectively with cleaning and rehabilitation of oiled birds and other animals.
  • Increased structural networking and sharing of experiences between European marine wildlife responders, particularly NGOs, facilitating cooperation and mutual assistance in the case of an oiled wildlife incident.
  • A better basis for coordinated and concerted activities of volunteer wildlife rehabilitation groups for future oil spill responses in Europe.
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