Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Oiled Wildlife Response

The nature and duration of impacts of oil and other harmful substances on wildlife depend on factors like type and amount of oil or other harmful substances, characteristics of the affected area, season and weather conditions but also on the clen-up response. Typical effects on marine organisms range from toxicity to smothering, which does not always cause mortality, but may induce temporary effects like narcosis and tainting of tissues, which usually subside over time.

Successful rehabilitation depends on ensuring timely mobilisation of experts and resources and the application of appropriate methods. Considerations of wildlife response during contingency planning improves the chances of success of the response operation.

In accordance with HELCOM Recommendation 31E/6 the Contracting Parties to the Helsinki Convention shall develop integrated oiled wildlife response plans an in doing so, apply the Guidelines on wildlife response planning Annexed to the Recommendation.

International assistance can be requested and provided in various fields, but will in most cases be aiming to support wildlife activities that take place onshore, including search and collection of live and dead animals, transport of collected animals to treatment centres, the treatment of animals in these centres, and the planning and management of these activities as part of the incident management system.

The HELCOM Response Manual Volumes I and III provide procedures for mutual wildlife response assistance among the Baltic Sea countries and the HELCOM Expert Working Group on Oiled Wildlife Response (EWG OWR) works to strengthen the cooperation.