Oil spill response planning in Pacific Canada: A tool for identifying vulnerable marine biota

Sharon Jeffery,Lucie C. Hannah,Leif-Matthias Herborg, Candice St Germain

Marine Policy(2023)

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Oil spill response planning is crucial for a fast and effective response. During an oil spill, focused biological resources at risk information is required to inform and guide oil spill response. A significant challenge for the initial emergency response phase (0–24 h) is having a consistent and transparent way to quickly identify the marine species that are most vulnerable to the oil spill, while not being reliant on regional experts who may not be available at the time. To address this challenge, biologists at Fisheries and Oceans Canada developed an oil vulnerability framework that has been used to assess vulnerability to oil for species groups using a suite of criteria. In the framework, vulnerability is defined as the degree to which a species group is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, injury, damage, or harm, and is a function of exposure to oil; sensitivity to oil, and recovery potential. Species groups were scored against criteria under these categories to generate a total vulnerability score that has been used to rank the species groups from most to least vulnerable. The framework has been adapted for use in different regions of Canada, but here we describe an application for the Pacific region of Canada, and how environmental response experts are using the results for oil spill planning and response.
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Key words
Oil spill,Response preparedness,Vulnerability,Environmental incident response
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