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Global Oiled Wildlife Response Systems – Wildbase, Massey helping work towards international oiled wildlife response assistance


Louise Chilvers attended the third meeting of experts involved in the Global Oiled Wildlife Response System (GOWRS) project in Delaware, USA in August. The project– a two-year initiative funded by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) as part of the Oil Spill Response Joint Industry Project (OSR-JIP) – aims to design an international system for oiled wildlife response expertise that can be mobilized for assistance in complex oiled wildlife scenarios.

The JIP20 GOWRS Steering Group (from left to right, Claude Velter - Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend, Charlie Hebert - Focus Wildlife International, Sascha Regmann - PRO Bird, Dr. Heidi Stout - Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research Inc., Paul Kelway - Sea Alarm Foundation, Dr. Valeria Ruoppolo - Aiuká, Dr. Stephen van der Spuy - SANCCOB, Barbara Callahan - International Bird Rescue, Dr. Mike Ziccardi - UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, Louise Chilvers – Wildbase, Massey University and Adam Grogan - RSPCA) joined by Lisa Smith, Executive Director of Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research Inc. (far right) and Danene Birtell, Tri-State’s Oil Programs Manager (6th from right).

The meeting was kindly hosted by Tri-State Bird Rescue Research Inc. - one of the GOWRS project partners - in the new Oiled Wildlife Response Annex at their facility in Newark, Delaware. The focus of the meeting was to discuss on-going Operations and Readiness work needed for the projects completion by the end of 2016 and to develop a work schedule for activities in the follow-up project, which is scheduled to start in January 2017 and run for another two years. The aims of that project will be to test the Standard Operational Procedure via exercises, discuss training programmes, readiness and membership, and to initiate exchanges with end users. The funding for the follow-up programme will be provided by the shareholders of Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL). During the week, Louise was unanimously elected as the Chair of the GOWRS group for 2017, with Adam Grogan RSPCA UK as Vice-Chair.


The GOWRS initiative aims to develop a global oiled wildlife response system that can be accessed by the oil industry and other stakeholders in the event of an oil spill incident requiring international wildlife response resources (Tier 3 response). The system utilizes and augments the response capability of existing wildlife response organisations through a collaborative approach which includes a common operating procedure and shared standards that allow for unity of effort in the event of a multi-organisational response. The intention is for this international (Tier 3) approach to serve as a complement to local and national wildlife response programmes, which serve as the foundation for good practice in oiled wildlife preparedness and response.


The GOWRS Project Partners include:

  • Aiuká, Brazil
  • Focus Wildlife International, USA & Canada
  • International Bird Rescue, USA
  • Oiled Wildlife Care Network, Wildlife Health Center, UC Davis, USA
  • PRO Bird, Germany
  • SANCCOB, South Africa
  • Sea Alarm Foundation, Belgium (Project Coordinator)
  • Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research Inc., USA
  • Wildbase, Massey University, New Zealand
  • Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend, Belgium


The project partners wish to thank IOGP for their support in improving oiled wildlife response preparedness through the OSR-JIP project, as well as the members of Oil Spill Response Limited for their willingness to continue supporting the development of the Global Oiled Wildlife Response System in the future.

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