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Pinniped and Cetacean Oil Spill Response Guidelines

December 01, 2015

When oil spills occur in the marine environment, many species of wildlife in that ecosystem may be either directly or indirectly impacted. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-52

These Guidelines provide a foundation for coordination and communication between local, state and federal oil spill response agencies and the marine mammal conservation, research and welfare communities (including marine mammal stranding networks and research scientists). More specifically, these Guidelines provide key information to, and standardize activities of, marine mammal responders to build and maintain oiled wildlife readiness at a national level, including:

  • Outlining organizational and reporting structures/instructions so that wildlife professionals can effectively integrate and contribute to the oil spill response framework;
  • Establishing standardized data collection techniques to support effective response activities (as well as subsequent natural resource damage assessment);
  • Defining chain-of-custody protocols for animal collection, necropsy and sampling to help ensure integrity of samples and results, as well as their admissibility in any legal proceedings;
  • Instituting training requirements or the protection of human and animal health during oil spill response; and
  • Promoting the best achievable care for oiled marine mammals, including necessary readiness activities (e.g., training, equipment).

Last updated by Office of Protected Resources on 05/19/2021

Whales Seals & Sea Lions Marine Mammal Protection Oil Spill Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program