The Oiled Wildlife Assessment Service from GOWRS goes live! Introducing a new wildlife service for OSRL Members
An MoU signing between OSRL and the Global Oiled Wildlife Response Service (GOWRS) Network at Interspill 2022 paved the way for the Oiled Wildlife Assessment Service to go live on a 'best endeavours' basis in July. This article provides an overview of what that means for our Members in practice.
What wildlife services are included in the OSRL Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
In total there and now three elements to the SLA Wildlife Services:
- Continued guaranteed access to Technical Advice from Sea Alarm – 2 x Technical Advisers with the option to mobilise 1 x on-site
- Oiled Wildlife Assessment Service from GOWRS– a 4-person team delivered by a network of leading wildlife response organisations (currently available on a ‘best endeavours’ basis), and
- Continued guaranteed access to Tier 3 wildlife response equipment – standardised across our four surface operations bases.
What is the new Oiled Wildlife Assessment Service from GOWRS?
The GOWRS Oiled Wildlife Assessment Service is a ready-to-deploy 4-person team delivered by a network of 10 leading wildlife response organisations (see below for more details). The four-person team will initially deploy for four days to provide an on-the-ground technical assessment of wildlife response needs and the professional capabilities of local responders. The team will inform the client of the feasibility of a full-scale professional response and the details of the GOWRS expertise that is available to deliver to the scale of such a response.
Achieving a live status for the GOWRS Service represents over a decade of hard work and dedication by many individuals and organisations, including OSRL, Sea Alarm and the GOWRS Partners, to create stronger ties between the global oiled wildlife response community and to develop a framework for Tier 3 response that could be integrated into industry response structures.
Which organisations are involved in delivering the GOWRS Assessment Team?
The Global Oiled Wildlife Response Service (GOWRS) is collaboratively provided by a network of the world's leading professional hands-on oiled wildlife response organisations unanimously committed to delivering wildlife response to the agreed international standards of good practice.
The GOWRS network currently consists of: Aiuká (Brazil), Focus Wildlife International (U.S.A.), International Bird Rescue (U.S.A.), Oiled Wildlife Care Network/UC Davis (OWCN) (U.S.A.), PRO BIRD (Germany), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), (U.K.), South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) (South Africa), Tri State Bird Rescue & Research (U.S.A.), WILDBASE/Massey University (New Zealand), and Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend (Belgium).
How do I mobilise the GOWRS Assessment Team and what’s the cost?
The GOWRS Assessment Team fully integrates into OSRL notification and mobilisation procedures. As with Sea Alarm's Technical Advisory Service, Members can request and mobilise the GOWRS Assessment Team via the OSRL Duty Manager.
The fees to mobilise a four-person GOWRS Assessment Team of leading wildlife response experts for four days are currently $13,600 USD. Travel, accommodation, and related expenses are not included.
What will the GOWRS Partners be doing when not responding to incidents?
The Oiled Wildlife Assessment Service is funded through the OSRL annual membership fees. This annual funding enables year-round activities by the 10 network organisations to develop and maintain a pool of qualified, response-ready personnel, including training, exercises, and maintenance of operational procedures.
These are the year-round activities that will be happening below the surface to ensure the network’s collective response readiness, to enable a qualified team to be selected and tailored to the needs of a specific incident and to aid the sustainability and resilience of the network as a whole.
GOWRS also provides access to an Assessment Team during exercises to support ongoing Member preparedness efforts. There is no charge for virtual participation. The GOWRS Partners are also available to assist larger preparedness projects as additional consultancies.
What is the difference between the existing Sea Alarm Technical Advisory Service and the new Oiled Wildlife Assessment Service from GOWRS?
Two Sea Alarm experts provide instant strategic and tactical advice following the notification and mobilisation by a client. They assist with the collection of relevant pre-spill collected information and identify in-country and regional resources using their global database and network. If mobilised into country the on-site Sea Alarm Technical Adviser advises the Environment Unit in the Planning Section and assists with setting up the Wildlife Branch and coaching its tactical decision-making. Sea Alarm supports the development of the wildlife section of the Incident Action Plan and assists with the identification, mobilisation and integration of regional and international resources.
The Oiled Wildlife Assessment Service provided by GOWRS carries out a fact-finding mission in-country, e.g., visiting ongoing wildlife operations in the field and in facilities; assessing the capabilities of key actors in the ongoing local response; and reporting their conclusions and recommendations through continuous direct liaison with the Incident Command. In doing so, the team can advise on additional expert mobilisation for a tailored response setup that can deal with the developing challenges and that maximises the probability of successfully delivering on the response objectives.
If an operational wildlife response is approved based on their recommendations, the GOWRS Assessment Team would take key positions in the Wildlife Branch of the Operations Section for up to 2 weeks to support the local resources and improve their hands-on operations in the field and in facilities. In this way, they support the transition to a main response contractor from the GOWRS Network with the GOWRS Wildlife Operations/Planning specialist likely serving as an interim Deputy Wildlife Branch Director.
GOWRS is currently available on a ‘Best Endeavours’ basis. What does this mean?
The network of 10 wildlife response organisations that are delivering the GOWRS Assessment Team is currently determining the best way to contract with OSRL and interface with each of the partner organisations. The timeframe for establishing this new GOWRS contract is the end of 2022, hence the MOU with OSRL as an interim step to bring the service into an active status on a 'best endeavours' basis in the meantime. In practice, the network will do everything it can to mount an Assessment Team if requested. However, there may be some limitations in mobilisation based on the contracting status.
How do I find out more about the Wildlife SLA Services?
Please join our Member Q&A session on Thursday 8th September at 14:00 UTC to find out more about the Wildlife SLA Services and how they can support Member preparedness and response for wildlife emergencies. Click here to register.
A slide deck summarising the 3 x elements of the Wildlife SLA Services (including GOWRS) is available and can be downloaded here.
For any questions or further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org