Despite Trinidad and Tobago having the highest biodiversity in the Caribbean and being an oil and gas producer for over 100 years, there is no approved systematic process to adequately address the protection, treatment and remediation of wildlife in the event of oil spills, apart from what is given in Section 5 of the 2013 National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP).
BP Group requirements in 2012 stipulated the need for a documented process to manage oiled wildlife. Using international guidelines, a detailed review was conducted in 2013 to determine what was needed to establish an oiled wildlife preparedness and response programme in BP Trinidad and Tobago LLC (BPTT). This involved engagement of various external stakeholders (regulators, researchers, veterinary services, environmental non-governmental organizations [ENGOs], and international wildlife response organizations) to determine what had been put in place and what could have been established to manage national disasters involving wildlife.
Local animal rehabilitation centres were found to have limited capability to respond to large incidents. BPTT sponsored an Oiled Wildlife Preparedness Response Train the Trainer programme in 2013 to increase the number of volunteers available for oiled wildlife management by enabling the ENGOs to share the techniques with others. Formal volunteer training via ENGOs began in 2017. BPTT also established its own Level 1 Oiled Wildlife Response Kit comprising tools and equipment required to handle, treat and remediate wildlife impacted by oil. While developing its Oiled Wildlife Management Plan, BPTT was asked by the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (MEEI) to lead the initiative to further develop Section 5 of the NOSCP in collaboration with the stakeholders mentioned above and the other oil and gas operators. In 2016, the draft national Oiled Wildlife Management Plan was segment-tested during a BPTT major drill that involved a simulated uncontrolled offshore release of hydrocarbon which impacted emerging Green Turtle hatchlings on Manzanilla Beach. The learnings from this drill are being incorporated in the Trinidad and Tobago draft Oiled Wildlife Management Plan which will be added to the next update of the NOSCP.
BPTT remains committed to working with the stakeholders to obtain approval to formally implement this system. In the meanwhile, engagement with the different groups, ENGO training of additional volunteers, drills, data collection from actual incidents continues as capability in oiled wildlife management in Trinidad and Tobago is strengthened.