The advances that the OWCN focuses so heavily on have had a recent impact for international oiled bird response!
Bill Dwyer, Managing Director for DwyerTech Services Ltd. out of Palmerston North, New Zealand (and a recent participant in our Webinar series) contacted Don Ballard of our team a few days ago with an urgent request. He, Massey University’s Wildlife Health Centre, and other members of the Maritime Incident Response Team (MIRT) had been contacted by Maritime New Zealand to assist in the response to the grounding of the Forum Samoa II in Samoa. The cargo vessel, built in 2001 with a deadweight of more than 8,100 metric tons (AKA a BIG ship!), was purchased three weeks ago by Pacific Forum Line and Samoa Shipping Services, and was on its maiden voyage when it ran aground on the reef surrounding Apia Harbor. New Zealand was sending over five response experts as advisors to the Samoan government as quickly as possible.
Due to the vast numbers and diverse bird life in the region, rapid planning for oiled wildlife response was also necessary. Bill needed additional information on the OWCN’s new soft-sided pen design – how to build them as well as how to acquire the parts that weren’t locally available. It became clear that the easiest way to make sure the response could move forward for the sake of the wildlife at risk was to offer some of our pre-existing pens, so Don began to box up 10 pens for the long trek “down undah”.
Luckily, the Forum Samoa II was able to be refloated, moved off the reef, and towed to port with minimal environmental damage, and the New Zealand wildlife team has stood down. However, we are continuing our discussions with Bill and the others folks at the OTHER Wildlife Health Center (though they claim we spell in incorrectly) to help them to be as ready as they can be should a similar event happen again!