In late April 2003, the Bouchard B. No. 120 spilled 98,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil into Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts just prior to the spring arrival to their breeding habitat of state and federally listed threatened piping plovers and endangered roseate terns. One of the most important roseate tern breeding islands in the North Atlantic was oiled, as well as the majority of piping plover beaches in the Bay. Extensive shoreline clean-up response efforts were undertaken, establishing a difficult dynamic of removing oil while protecting listed species. Efforts to implement the pre-spill planning components of the National Contingency Plan-Endangered Species Act Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) had commenced in the region, including specific consideration of the roseate tern islands in Buzzard's Bay. However this planning was not finalized when the spill occurred. While the MOA provided guidance for implementing an emergency consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the different terminologies and cultures of the organizations presented challenges in the formal consultation following the emergency. This spill response afforded a number of lessons that can be applied to pre-spill planning and future spill response, and this paper reviews these lessons and our recommendations.

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Author notes

1 The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of our employing agencies