Presently, close to 2 billion tons of oil is transported annually via international marine oil network. The increasing number of ships, especially bigger ones, has brought a sense of heightened concern to countries living in or close to these maritime corridors. Specifically, the concern is that of a major oil spill.

The devastation caused by a major spill is always relative - to the amount, oil type, weather conditions, and most especially the area of impact. Coastal communities are especially vulnerable and those that have been hit by large spills, like in the Philippines, have borne the brunt of its force to its livelihood, resources and habitat. And most often than not, especially in remote areas, they are at the frontlines of combating the spill, whether it be clean up or other response strategies.

The problem is that local communities are rarely formally integrated into the response planning framework such as in oil spill contingency plans. With more than half the world'S population living along or near the coastline, this is a valuable human resource that is untapped. The Alaska Oil Spill Commission report entitled ‘Spill: the Wreck of the Exxon Valdez’ recognized the vital role of local interests, local knowledge and experience in the response effort and suggested that ‘substantive roles should be given to the affected communities in any response system.’

The aim of this paper is to examine the current practices worldwide through case studies of how local communities are assimilated into the response frameworks and how these best practices can be formulated into practical guidelines that can be implemented effectively.

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