Preventing oil spills from happening would be the ideal way to stop marine wildlife getting oiled. But spills will continue to happen and when they do, there are some immediate challenges:
- Can the oiling of threatened animals be prevented?
- Can the effects of oil on individual wild animals and their populations be mitigated?
- Can the effects be scientifically documented so that a reliable impact assessment can be made?
In dealing with a potential oiled wildlife incident it is important to understand which marine animals are at risk and how oil is likely to affect them. Having appropriate equipment and trained personnel in place when an oil spill does occur allows response to be rapid and, therefore, more effective.
Oiled wildlife response and preparedness is a specialised discipline nested within the overarching discipline of oil spill response and preparedness. A wide range of stakeholders and key players are involved in continuing to develop expertise and improving the level of preparedness both nationally and internationally. International and regional conventions and treaties allow for integrated response across national boundaries
This combination of knowledge, preparation and cooperation provides the basis for a professional response to an oiled wildlife incident.