Commercial and social media is accessible globally and is always fixated on the impact an oil spill has on marine animals and the environment. Combined with the cost of cleanup and recovery, public perception and a lack of preparedness and operational response structure arrangements by the operator can impact severely on the financial viability of an oil and gas business. This paper outlines how to set up and implement an Oiled Wildlife Response (OWR) and how preparedness is integrated into oil spill planning and response. Traditionally, OWR relied on ‘not for profit’ organisations funded through donations. The development of wildlife carer networks and their links to industry, government and non-government organisations (NGOs) has evolved from this. More recently, coordinating organisations have taken on the further development of OWR. A good OWR management system requires reliable information on the environment and ecosystems at risk and integration of key wildlife response personnel and resources across the spill response command structure. This is demonstrated in recent Australian regulatory changes, which now require operators to prove they have the capacity to respond to an oil spill through valid contracts with service providers. A good OWR plan should meet industry standards for risk assessment, management, and emergency response. The plan must demonstrate that risk to fauna during hazing and deterrence and recovery and handling is As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP). Appropriately qualified wildlife handling personnel should always be identified and available for deployment during an emergency response. The plan should be underpinned by detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for use of equipment and should integrate the biological aspects of the response with Health and Safety requirements, a Hazard Register inclusive of Major Accident Events, Safety Critical Equipment and the associated performance standards. Response equipment availability should align with immediate ‘first strike’ requirements together with expected escalation of response scenarios developed around best practice in marine wildlife interactions and use of equipment. Activation of oiled wildlife teams must be scalable and commensurate with the size of the spill, development of spill containment and deflection strategies by industry, and fauna at risk. A reduction in reactive OWR response and subsequent recovery times and an increase in positive public perception of oil spill response will limit the impact of the cost of an oil spill on the financial viability of an oil and gas business.

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