NOAA announces marine debris cleanup funding

23 Jul 2012
Marine debris is a part of everyday life, but not in tsunami sized quantities Photo: NOAA

Marine debris is a part of everyday life, but not in tsunami sized quantities Photo: NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that US$250,000 in grants is being made available to five states being impacted by Japanese tsunami debris.

Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii will all receive up to US$50,000 to use towards marine debris removal efforts.

Nancy Wallace, director of NOAA’s marine debris programme, said: “We remain dedicated to continuing our work with the states and others to address contingency planning, monitoring and research.”

NOAA has been actively assisting states in crisis planning. Its work has included collecting and sharing data, assessing the debris and mitigating risk to navigational safety.

Debris has already begun to reach US and Canadian shores, and more is expected to continue over the next several years.

NOAA says that after the tsunami in 2011, approximately 1.5m tonnes of debris was dispersed across the North Pacific Ocean - roughly three times the size of the lower 48 states. Recent modelling indicates that the bulk of the debris may continue to disperse north of the Hawaiian Islands and east of Midway Atoll.

The organisation has been making efforts to hold a series of public briefings throughout the Pacific West Coast and in Hawaii and establish monitoring sites along the coast.

Its also established a public email reporting system for suspected pieces of tsunami debris. Commercial and recreational shippers and fishers who spot any significant sightings of marine debris at sea or on shore, should report them to: disasterdebris@noaa.gov

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