Boat Recovered from Kahana Bay Shoreline Could Be Japan Tsunami Marine Debris


News Release

For Immediate Release: December 4, 2012

~Confirmation pending assistance by NOAA and Japan Consulate in Hawai‘i~

HONOLULU — An open boat recovered from the shoreline of Kahana Bay, Oahu, may be the next piece to be verified as Japan tsunami marine debris, pending confirmation by the Government of Japan, with assistance by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Consulate-General of Japan in Honolulu.

The approximately 20-foot boat was reportedly seen floating whole on Thursday, November 29 in Kahana Bay. By Friday afternoon when it was officially reported, it had broken up into pieces on rocks on the northward outer edge of the bay. Staff from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR)  the State’s lead agency for marine debris responses,
  were able to retrieve pieces of the boat from the rocks and bring them ashore on Saturday.

Further investigations by DLNR today in the ocean near where the boat had washed up on to the rocks recovered more pieces of the broken boat. Identification information found on the various pieces include Japanese characters (kanji) on a section of the bow,  and Japanese registration numbers from pieces of the stern. The NOAA Marine Debris Program in Hawai‘i is working with the Japan Consulate on confirmation of the boat’s origin.

DLNR and NOAA will make a followup announcement if this item is confirmed.  If it is confirmed, it will be the fourth confirmed tsunami marine debris item for Hawaii and the 17th overall for the U.S. and Canada.  (Currently, there are 16 confirmed JTMD for US and Canada.)  

Identification of the boat’s origin may also help with the identification of two species of mussels collected by DLNR staff that were attached to the boat as biofouling.  The mussels could be a species that is present along the Japan coastline and is not currently known to be present in Hawai‘i. Specimens were turned over to NOAA for further identification by Bishop Museum and possible genetic identification.

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Images of the vessel and its identifying markers are available at:

For more information news media may contact:
Deborah Ward
DLNR Public Information Specialist
Phone: (808) 587-0320

Posted in Hawaii, Press Release

Washington Marine Debris Task Force Holding Public Meetings on Tsunami Debris Response Plan

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington State Marine Debris Task Force is holding community meetings in Ocean Shores and Long Beach to answer questions and gather feedback about the state plan for responding to marine debris from the tragic March 11, 2011, Japan tsunami that may cross the Pacific Ocean and reach Washington beaches.

The meetings will be held:

  • Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, in Ocean Shores – 6:30 p.m., Ocean Shores Convention Center, 120 W. Chance A La Mer Ave.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Long Beach – 3 p.m., Peninsula Church Center, 5000 “N” Place, Seaview.

The response plan is designed to address high-impact types of debris, such as a large dock or debris containing hazardous materials like oil, as well as a potential steady influx of small nonhazardous debris. The task force collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop the plan.

According to NOAA, a portion of the 1.5 million tons of tsunami debris that dispersed in the Pacific Ocean has been arriving on U.S. and Canadian shores, including Washington. Debris is predicted to show up on state beaches intermittently during the next several years.

The plan recognizes incidents involving high-impact debris will be unique and difficult to predict. It is designed to give local, tribal, state and federal responders flexibility in rapidly assessing a debris item, identifying which agencies will respond and what resources will be necessary to protect public health, safety and the environment.

For example, the Washington Department of Ecology has existing systems set up 24/7 to respond to cases in which hazardous materials like oil are present, and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has a well-established aquatic invasive species response program.

Gov. Chris Gregoire established the task force to coordinate state, federal and local activities to monitor and respond appropriately to marine debris along the Washington coast. The task force will oversee and continually update the state marine debris response plan.

Media contacts

Curt Hart or Linda Kent, Ecology media relations

More information







Source: Media Advisory email – Sandra Partridge, 11/14/2012, 1:30 pm PST
Posted in Press Release, Washington State | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Washington Crew Removing Marine Debris from Willapa Bay Beaches

DNR crew removing marine debris from Willapa Bay beaches

OLYMPIA, Washington – This week, a Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) work crew began cleaning up accumulated marine debris that washed ashore on Willapa Bay beaches this summer.

The 4-member crew focused its removal efforts on a stretch of beach west of Tokeland, an area between Bruceport County Park and the DNR-managed Bone River Natural Area Preserve on the east side of the bay.

So far, the crew has removed 62 large garbage bags full of debris including pieces of Styrofoam and plastic bottles with Asian writing on them. It is unknown, however, if any of the debris is tied to the March 11, 2011, Japan tsunami that claimed near 20,000 lives and destroyed countless homes and structures.

Items from many parts of the Pacific Rim, including buoys and consumer plastics, regularly wash up on Washington beaches. It is difficult to tell the origin of the debris without unique information such as an individual or company name, serial number or other identifying information.

The seasonally-employed DNR crew usually works to eradicate non-native spartina cordgrass that has invaded Willapa Bay’s intertidal waters and salt marshes. The crew finished its invasive species control work last week, but their season was extended to address marine debris in the area.

Crew supervisor and DNR biologist Todd Brownlee said: “It’s very rewarding to be able to focus on debris removal. It is extremely fulfilling to have a direct impact on improving our environment.”

Brownlee said the crew is focusing on beaches that have the highest amounts of debris. Future cleanup efforts will take the crew east of Tokeland around to Willapa Bay. Next spring, the crew will be assigned to more marine debris cleanup before returning to its spartina eradication duties.

Meanwhile, the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) stands ready to redeploy state-funded trash bins on coastal beaches from Moclips south that have been temporarily removed to conserve funds.

Ecology removed the trash bins after consulting with the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and citizen beach cleanup volunteers, who report that no new marine debris has been observed washing ashore on coastal shorelines between Moclips and Cape Disappointment.

Trash bins at Ocean Park in Pacific County were removed this week after volunteers completed a recent, targeted cleanup effort that was delayed to avoid disturbing important nesting habitat for the snowy plover, a small, threatened shorebird residing on Pacific Coast beaches.

Washington saw a spike in amounts of marine debris on its coastal beaches in June 2012, but the quantity washing ashore decreased significantly over the summer. However, fall and winter weather and ocean current patterns typically wash more marine debris ashore than summertime conditions.

Anyone encountering oil or hazardous materials like fuel tanks, gas cylinders, chemical totes and other containers with unknown fluids on Washington beaches should immediately report it by calling 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) and pressing “1.”

The Washington State Marine Debris Task Force – a group of state agencies led by the state Military Department’s Emergency Management Division – has established a marine debris information email listserv for Washington residents and coastal visitors. People can join by going to Ecology’s listserv page at and choosing “marine/tsunami debris.”

More about marine debris, including potential tsunami debris

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) remains the best source for information about Japan tsunami marine debris including modeling, protocols to follow for handling marine debris and frequently asked questions. Go to
  • NOAA is actively collecting information about tsunami debris and asks the public to report debris sightings to Please include the time, date, location and, if possible, photos in such reports.
  • Don’t burn driftwood. Salt residue from ocean waters stays in pores of the wood, even after it’s dry. According to Ecology, when burned the chlorine reacts with the wood to form toxic compounds called dioxins that are released in the smoke. Such compounds can affect the immune system. If a beach fire is permitted, bring seasoned, non-driftwood, and enjoy.
  • State Parks asks people who want to clean debris from beaches to focus on small, non-natural items such as Styrofoam and plastic. Leave wood and kelp because these are an important part of the beach ecosystem. Stripping the beach of its driftwood depletes needed coastal habitat.

For more information:

Source:  Washington State News Release: 12-005-R-MDNR (Correction) Issued October 15, 2012, email from Partridge, Sandra (ECY).
Posted in Press Release, Washington State

Hawaii Works with Federal Partners to Monitor and Respond to Reports of Possible Tsunami Debris

State of Hawaii
Department of Land and Natural Resources


Hawaii Works with Federal Partners to Monitor and Respond to Reports of Possible Tsunami Debris
Contingency plans being prepared to intercept floating dock and handle before it reaches land

HONOLULU, HI (Sept. 27, 2012 | Dept. of Land & Natural Resources) — The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the state’s lead agency for responding to reported possible Japan tsunami marine debris in Hawaii, is coordinating with NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard to identify the current location of a 30 by 50-foot floating dock that was last seen on Wednesday, Sept. 19, by fishermen off the north coast of Molokai.

The dock is believed to be identical to three others reported missing from Japan after the March 2011 tsunami.  Another one recently came ashore on an Oregon beach earlier this year.

”DLNR’s priority, with the critical help of the public and federal partners, is to re-find this large floating object, which is a hazard to vessels at sea and the wellbeing of our coastal resources. We need to be able to track its movement to try to intercept and handle the dock at sea, and to prevent serious environmental damage if it should reach shore,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.

DLNR has requested that boaters, fishers and pilots be alert to the possible presence of the dock and to immediately report any sightings of the dock to (808) 587-0400.  NOAA is also requesting that sightings of marine debris be reported to

The Japan Consulate in Honolulu has been notified and, if the dock is relocated, will work with DLNR and NOAA to confirm the dock’s origin.

DLNR and the Department of Health (with assistance as needed from other state agencies) along with NOAA, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S .Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working together on the Hawaii response to marine debris from the 2011 Japan earthquake and resulting tsunami.  The inter-agency working group is coordinating with various federal, state and county partners, as appropriate, to facilitate response and regularly communicate to the public. NOAA continues to assist with model trajectories for possible movement of the dock by currents and winds, and has readied two satellite tracking buoys for state use should the dock be located.

On Tuesday, DLNR received a call from a Molokai resident who reported seeing styrofoam on a rocky cliff shoreline on the Molokai north coast. DLNR arranged for its Maui helicopter contractor to survey the north shores of Molokai and Lanai yesterday afternoon. Two staff members from the Division of Aquatic Resources Maui office participated as observers. A large quantity of foam pieces were noticed west of Moomomi and a ball of fishing debris. However there was no sighting of the dock in either location.

DLNR also received a report yesterday from a Laie resident who had found two large and one smaller black buoy on a local beach.  There was no marine growth on them. The buoys were tested by the Department of Health and normal background levels of radiation were found.



The public is invited to contact DLNR at (808) 587-0400 to report findings of possible tsunami marine debris. If possible, we request that a picture of the debris with a detailed description of the object, date found, location and finder’s contact information, be sent to  This information will help DLNR staff to determine if a more thorough investigation is necessary.  Reports may also made to NOAA at

DLNR staff also checked out a large piece of yellow foam that was reported in Kahaluu earlier this week.  It measured 4 inches wide by 4 feet long, with chicken wire molded between.  It had a small amount of gooseneck barnacles (not of concern) on one side, but no other growth.  There were no identifying marks and it did not look to be tsunami generated.
Other actions to locate the floating dock

Between September 21 and 22, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted three flights where Coast Guard aircrews were able to observe the area between Molokai and Oahu for any sign of marine debris. No sightings were reported, and the dock has not yet been relocated.  The Coast Guard also used a search and rescue computer program to plot the potential drift of the object using the last reported sighting of the dock from local fishermen on September 19.

The Coast Guard has systems in place to report significant objects and other hazards in the water through the issuance of notice to mariners. A broadcast notice to mariners has been issued that contains a description of the floating dock, the time and date it was sighted and the last known location. Cmdr. Martin Smith, chief of marine environmental response for the 14th Coast Guard District said, “The Coast Guard would like to remind mariners, as always, to remain on the lookout for debris or any other dangers while at sea.”

In conjunction with routine Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane law enforcement deployments and surveillance patrols of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine Monument, the Coast Guard has been on the lookout for marine debris in an attempt to help NOAA identify and track it.  On December 6, 2011, one such flight provided surveillance of a 58,000 square mile area off Midway; an area approximately the size of the state of Alabama. A small refrigerator was sighted, but nothing else.

On January 17, 2012, a second Hercules, with observers from NOAA and EPA aboard, provided surveillance covering 78,700 square miles; an area approximating the size of the state of North Dakota.  No debris whatsoever was sighted. Both of these flights were conducted in an area of the highest risk/probability of forecast debris approaching the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, using University of Hawaii and NOAA drift modeling data. Routine law enforcement patrols continue to provide opportunities to search for marine debris.

The state is also collaborating with the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument as well as external stakeholders to assess and monitor the movement of other Japan tsunami marine debris.  The Japan Ministry of the Environment estimates that 5 million tons of debris washed into the ocean (not the 25 million tons according to initial estimates).  They further estimated that 70 percent of debris sank near the coast of Japan soon after the tsunami.   Models and estimates completed by NOAA and the University of Hawai‘i reveal that  some high-floating debris may have passed near or washed ashore on the Main and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as early as this summer.  During the summer, debris was found along the Pacific Coast of North America from Alaska southward to California.

Because most tsunami debris was washed out to sea before the release of radioactive materials from the power plant and because of its extended exposure to the elements, it is highly unlikely that the debris would be contaminated.

Even though the likelihood of discovering radioactive contamination on marine debris is low, the state Department of Health has been conducting shoreline surveillance since April 2011, in order to establish normal background radiation levels around the islands.  The state Department of Health continues to conduct quarterly shoreline environmental surveys on O‘ahu, Maui. Kaua‘i, and the Hawai‘i Island.  Results of the surveys performed displays consistency with normal background radiation levels.  Additionally, the state Department of Health has partnered with NOAA to perform shoreline and debris monitoring on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

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For more information news media may contact:

Deborah Ward
DLNR Public Information Specialist
Phone: (808) 587-0320

Ben Sherman
Director of NOAA Communications & External Affairs @ The National Ocean Service
SSMC#4, Room #13227
1305 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: 301-713-3066 Cell: 202-253-5256

(Source: Carey Morishige, Pacific Islands regional coordinator, NOAA Marine Debris Program / IMSG, email 9/28/2012)
Posted in Hawaii, Press Release | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gov. Gregoire’s statement on Japan’s financial contribution to help remove tsunami debris

*The following release was issued by the office of State of Washington Governor Chris Gregoire on Friday, September 28, 2012. The official release may be found here.*

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire issued the following statement, thanking the nation of Japan for its financial support to help remove tsunami debris from coastal beaches:

“I am extremely grateful to the nation of Japan for their friendship and generosity. We deeply appreciate such assistance from a nation that is still working hard to recover from the devastating March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. We continue to offer our condolences for the tragedy that claimed so many lives and the need for so much rebuilding in Japan, and continue to admire the strength, commitment and resilience of the Japanese people.

“This commitment by the government of Japan is yet another demonstration of the nation’s continued contributions to the international community. The funds will be used wisely and with great care to help our coastal communities respond to possible increases in debris and protect our coastal environment.

“I consider Japan a close friend – and was honored and moved to visit the nation shortly after the tsunami to lay a wreath of flowers in memory of the victims from Yuriage, a small fishing village in the Miyagi Prefecture. The United States and Washington state have enjoyed strong collaboration with the Japanese on the issue of marine debris, and we in Washington look forward to continuing our cooperative efforts with Japan’s embassy, consulates, and the broader Japanese government.”

Posted in Press Release, Washington State