Efforts to deal with debris from last year's Japanese tsunami are moving forward. Dave Gaudet is the marine debris program coordinator for the Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation. He says that politicians and policy-makers are finally starting to address the issue.
-- (Debris Monitoring 1 :19 "There hasn't been anybody
politically that's really started to watch this, until now. It's
becoming much more front and center. People realize that it's probably
coming. We don't know how much. We've got an idea when it might get
here. We don't know what we're going to do if it shows up in force.")
This morning Senator Lisa Murkowski hosted a discussion with Gaudet,
Peter Murphy from NOAA's Marine Debris Program and Kristin Ryan from the
state's Department of Environmental Conservation.
Senator Mark Begich, this week he sent a letter to NOAA head Jane
Lubchenco stating his support for NOAA's Marine Debris Program and
Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inouye's Trash Free Seas Act .
of debris, which Gaudet says satellites lost track of on April 14th of
last year, is expected to hit the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife
Refuge as soon as this spring. That prediction is based on research done
by the University of Hawaii. The last known sighting of the debris
field was last fall.
-- (Debris Monitoring 2 :20
"There was a Russian ship that went through the debris field in
about mid to late September and they were pretty positive it was the
debris field because they found such things as an overturned boat. They
saw lots of household appliances floating such as stoves, microwaves,
TVs and things like that.")
Gaudet says there are two ways
marine debris can travel. Much of what is already showing up on beaches
are light, foam floats that travel with the wind. Heavier items travel
with the ocean's currents. Finding Japanese buoys on Alaska's shores is
not unusual, so having a baseline is key to understanding how much
debris is actually from the tsunami. Gaudet says MCA has been doing
marine debris cleanups on Alaska beaches since 2003. They know that
fishing lines, nets and water bottles make up the bulk of "normal" debris.
-- (Debris Monitoring 3 :25 "Because
the tsunami just took homes and businesses and washed them back into the
sea, if the debris starts to show up we would expect to see a different
type of composition. We also might see items that are clearly marked,
that they were from that part of Japan. They might have the town's name
on them or something like that. That would tell us that it was very
likely to be from the tsunami.")
Part of the plan that
emerges might be that observers are dispatched to beaches where no
baseline for marine debris has been established. Gaudet says a more
concrete strategy for monitoring debris from the tsunami should emerge
quickly. He's already enlisted the help of locals in the communities of
Kodiak, Craig, Sitka and Yakutat. Gaudet expects monitoring to
officially begin sometime next week.
NOAA's Marine Debris Program Tsunami FAQs: http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/japanfaqs.html
Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation Survey Results: http://www.mcafoundation.org/tsunami_debris.html
Sen. Murkowski's Roundtable Discssion (10:30 am): http://murkowski.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Events&ContentRecord_id=9d023292-3297-408e-abc2-830918da3d44
Sen. Inouye's Trash Free Seas Act: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d112:1:./temp/~bdIblc:@@@L&summ2=m&|/home/LegislativeData.php|