I arrived in Lofoten Thursday May 3rd. The trip was characterized by heavy turbulence in a small flight taking up to 10 people. I have to admit that I was shaking a bit when we landed. It was my first time organizing the Clean Coast! course, and I was extremely excited to meet the participants.
We stayed at a small fishing village just outside Svolvær, the biggest town in Lofoten. The surroundings were beautiful, especially knowing that amazing marine diversity flourishes just below the water surface. Norway has the biggest cod stocks in the world and the world’s largest cold water Coral Reef just outside Lofoten. It makes me feel privileged to arrange a course that can be part of protecting these values.
WWF volunteers from all around the country arrived the day after me, and the Clean Coast! course on oil spill response began. Our cooperating partners were also present and excited about arranging the course for the 21st time (!). The participants were really engaged in environmental protection in Lofoten and were eager to learn more about the specific techniques, the latest news in oil spill response and preparedness, both nationally and internationally.
The first day we went through theory on oil spill response in Norway, risks of oil spills and consequences of oil spills on marine mammals, seabirds, fish and other marine organisms. We spent the entire second day outside learning and practicing how to clean up oil pollution by different oil types and underlay using the right type of techniques. Part of the exercise for the volunteers was also to set out oil booms from a boat, and learning how these work in water when the weather is harsh.
WWF now has 495 volunteers on our oil spill response list ready to act on future oil spills. As humans often are to blame for oil spills, we are also responsible for cleaning it up. I am looking forward to arrange our next courses, in the West coast of Norway – which will focus on the vulnerable area on bird cliffs in the middle of the biggest oil developed area in Norway. Our last course for volunteers for 2012 will be in the north and will focus on the challenges in the Arctic region.