Multiple NOAA Line Offices Participate in MERR Oil Spill Preparedness Workshop
OCT. 10, 2023 — On September 21, 2023, the Marine Education Rehabilitation and Restoration Institute Inc. (MERR) hosted an Oil Spill Preparedness Workshop as part of their week-long 2023 Greater Atlantic Region Stranding Conference (GARSCON).
MERR is a non-profit stranding and rehabilitation organization dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals and sea turtles. It is MERR’s commitment to contribute to the preservation of these species through research and rescue efforts, and to foster greater understanding and appreciation of these species and their habitats through education and enhanced public awareness. MERR is authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the State of Delaware to be the official stranding respondent for the marine mammals and sea turtles of Delaware.
The MERR Executive Director facilitated the oil spill workshop that was held on the University of Delaware’s campus. The objective of the workshop was to increase preparedness of stranding network responders during an oil spill incident, as well as expand trained personnel resources to assist with oil spill events in other geographic areas. The workshop focused on best management practices for oil spill response for marine mammals and sea turtles, which included a session on the Incident Command System structure used to manage an oil spill incident.
Approximately 50 individuals, representing a combination of federal, state, industry, and environmental organizations, attended the workshop. Multiple NOAA offices attended or presented at the workshop, including the Office of Response and Restoration along with staff from several National Marine Fisheries Services’ offices as well as staff from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
After the presentation, there was hands-on training, an oiled animal response demonstration by Tri-State Bird Rehabilitation and Rescue and a tour of Delaware Bay and River Cooperative’s oil spill recovery vessel, the DelRiver, a 425-ton multi-purpose vessel measuring 166 feet in length. The DelRiver can provide an on-board command center and a variety of equipment, including skimming equipment and boom.