Program would aid marine mammals impacted by oil spills

An agreement to develop an Oiled Marine Mammal Program to aid wildlife impacted by oil spills in Western Alaska, the U.S. Arctic and Prince William Sound has been announced by the Alaska SeaLife Center and Alaska Chadux Network.

Plans are to develop a program that outlines how best to rapidly mobilize, assess, treat and stabilize marine mammals impacted by oil spills in remote areas. The program is to be designed to provide unique solutions to logistical and treatment obstacles to be identified through assessments that will address challenges of operating where infrastructure and support facilities are not available.

The goal is a pre-planned system that can be rapidly mobilized to support oil spill operations requiring the support of specialized marine mammal veterinarians, animal care professionals and support equipment.

According to Buddy Custard, president and chief executive officer of the Alaska Chadux Network, the network has been working on leveraging their response systems into an oiled marine mammal response program that meets requirements of various state and federal agencies, as well as companies who benefit from their oil spill preparedness and response capabilities.

Our experience confirms that collaborating with professional organizations such as the Alaska SeaLife Center is the most effective way to sustain specialized services in their oil spill response inventory, he said.

Chip Arnold, chief operating officer for ASLC, said the opportunity to expand their marine mammal response capabilities is one that is exciting for ASLC. The non-profit research institution and public aquarium in Seward generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems.

Alaska Chadux Network is an industry funded nonprofit organization the provides oil spill response preparedness and response programs for regulated vessel and facility operators throughout Western Alaska, the U.S. Arctic, Prince William Sound and Interior Alaska.