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RESPONDER project comes to an end: 138 people complete EUROWA training courses in Spain

After one and a half years of work, the Spanish project “RESPONDER: a training program for response to oiled marine fauna on the Spanish coasts” comes to an end. The main objective of project RESPONDER was to improve the response capacity along the Spanish coasts in case of oil spills with affected marine animals, with successful results:

  • EUROWA’s Basic and Advanced Oiled Wildlife Responder manuals have been translated into Spanish;
  • 138 people from the regional governments of Asturias and Catalonia have been trained to Basic level, 43 to Advanced Field and 16 to Advanced Oiled Wildlife Responder

New responders were trained through a series of EUROWA training programs. After the Basic and Advanced Field trainings organised last year in Asturias and Catalonia, a number of further training courses were organised in Catalonia: one Basic, two Advanced Beach (search & rescue) and one Advanced Rescue Centre courses.

This was the first time ever that a EUROWA Advanced Oiled Wildife Responder course was organised in Spain, hosted by the Wildlife Rescue Center of Torreferrusa, in Barcelona. Claude Velter and Isabelle Allemeersch, of the Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostende (WRCO), led the training, with Mariluz Parga and Andreu Dalmau, of SUBMON, assisting. Attendees were staff from the Regional Governments of Asturias and Catalonia and members of SUBMON. During the course, they learnt about the different departments within a rescue center taking care of oiled wildlife, and how to organise each of them to accommodate and organise large numbers of animals. This course has a strong practical component, with each of the three full days devoted to a specific department: intake and first exam; washing, rinsing and drying; and maintenance in pools and release.

The RESPONDER project, carried out by SUBMON, has been carried out thanks to the support of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge through its Fundación Biodiversidad, and the Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda of the Generalitat de Catalunya.

All attendees of these courses were official staff from both governments, drastically improving the readiness of these two regions to respond in a fast and effective way in case of an oil spill with affected wildlife. Furthermore, because the trainings are based on EUROWA standards and best practices, staff trained during this project can be mobilised and easily work hand in hand with trained personnel and experts from anywhere across Europe. They can be mobilised if a European member state requests assistance in case of a pollution incident with affected marine wildlife.

And what now? Spain is already planning for more training activities for 2023, with the support of the regional governments of Asturias, Catalonia and Andalusia, who have shown interest in continuing activities with EUROWA. The objective for the immediate future is to continue Basic and Advanced training, so that hopefully in 2024 next training levels can be introduced, such as specialists in the different areas of a rescue center and veterinary specialists, as well as response managers.

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