Rochelle Ferris.
Rochelle Ferris.

Oil spill plan a victory for group

SEABIRD rescue volunteers on the North Coast are celebrating a new plan to make the state more prepared for catastrophic oil spills.

The Legislative Council has passed a Labor amendment to the Marine Pollution Bill 2011, which will create a three-point Wildlife Disaster Rehabilitation Plan.

The plan includes the creation of an Oiled Wildlife Network, which will unite resources and lead efforts to treat stricken wildlife.

Australian Seabird Rescue director Rochelle Ferris said she is ecstatic to know years of campaigning have brought about the changes.

"As soon as I heard it had made it through the Legislative Council I got the champagne out," Ms Ferris said.

"It's taken years to see this action so it's a huge win."

Ms Ferris said NSW is unprepared for mopping up a major oil spill.

"This is a huge leap forward for our preparedness and training for a major oil spill which is going to happen one day in our state. We're not ready for that so it's a great opportunity for us to be better prepared."

Australian Seabird Rescue has been involved in cleaning up oil spills since The Iron Baron was grounded in Tasmania in 1995.

Two observers from Australian Seabird Rescue, Marny Bonner and Julie Dunn, were also sent to the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Ms Ferris said this experience strengthened the organisation's desire to change policies in NSW.

"It was hugely influencing and what we immediately identified was if anything of that scale were to happen in NSW we wouldn't be ready," Ms Ferris said.

Ms Ferris hopes support for the bill shows there is growing understanding of the need to protect marine wildlife in NSW.

"To know all the parties supported the amendment shows they understand and appreciate the impacts of an oil spill."

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