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EUROWA, from a gap to an operational solution

Oiled wildlife response can be a crucial element in a response to oil pollution at sea. Wildlife such as birds, sea turtles and marine mammals may become affected by oil or other pollutants spilled at sea. In past European spills, the arrival of thousands of oiled birds and other animals added complex problems on top of the other, already challenging aspects of oil spill response activities. European Member states have become increasingly aware of these challenges and progress has been made on filling gaps in European preparedness for such incidents. However, a significant challenge which remains is the development of adequate oiled wildlife rehabilitation capabilities. Although some Member States hold an oiled wildlife response plan and the expertise to deal with live oiled animals in their home countries, the operational standards that would enable countries to pool this expertise together and make it internationally available across Europe are lacking.

Creation of EUROWA

To assist in filling this gap, the EUROWA network was created to provide international expert resources for dealing with affected animals in marine wildlife emergencies. The initiative was established in 2015-16 via an EU-funded project, but preceded by many years of informal cooperation between European oiled wildlife responders, pooling their expertise and collaborating on developing joint preparedness and response standards.

EUROWA Mission and Activities

EUROWA’s mission is to support and empower European authorities, NGOs, and potential polluters in Europe in dealing jointly and professionally with the challenges connected to the assistance of affected marine wildlife using agreed international standards and procedures.

The purpose of EUROWA activities is to:

  • Educate and involve key individuals in national authorities, NGOs and industry, to understand the key issues of a marine wildlife emergency.
  • Via training and exercises, maximise the potential of those parties to make a constructive contribution as part of a wildlife emergency response to mitigate the effects of oil on species, habitats and populations.
  • Collectively, members aim to work, train and exercise together to ensure that at all times, in case of a marine wildlife emergency, a well-disciplined, coordinated and structured EUROWA team of experts and their equipment can be put together to assist a requesting country.

EUROWA today is thriving as a dynamic network of European oiled wildlife response experts, working together under the EUROWA Charter. Our aim is to have at least one network member in each coastal country in Europe, and ideally this member is the recognised coordinator of a national network of organisations.

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