Ministry of Environment

Tsunami Debris

Tsunami Debris Sightings:

Please report all general tsunami debris sightings to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) email address designated for this purpose: DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.

Important Note: If you see something on the beach that appears to be a source of pollution or hazardous material, or represents a possible emergency situation, please contact the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre at 1-800-663-3456.

For more information about the Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee, please read the FAQs (PDF/81 KB).

For more information about NOAA and marine debris, please visit NOAA’s website: http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/japanfaqs.html.

Japan’s 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami

The earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11, 2011 is a human tragedy—the disaster took more than 16,000 lives, injured 6,000, and destroyed or damaged countless buildings. As a result of the disaster, it is expected that debris that washed into the Pacific Ocean will reach U.S. and Canadian shores over the next several years.

B.C. is already getting ready for its arrival by preparing to:

  • manage the volume of material that could reach B.C.’s shores,
  • ensure any culturally significant items are handled with respect, and
  • remove items quickly and safely in the unlikely event any of the debris poses a risk to health or the environment.

In Canada, the Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee co-chaired by provincial and federal representatives has been created to manage any tsunami debris that arrives on B.C.’s coast in the coming months.

B.C. is also coordinating with US States on commitments made by our Premier through the Pacific Coast Collaborative at the Third Annual Leaders Forum on March 13, 2012. The goal of this work is to ensure that we share information and work together in those instances where it makes sense.

A Japan Tsunami Marine Debris Joint Information Center website has been established to serve as a multi-agency public information and education site. In addition to this BC Government website, current information and other resources related to Japanese Tsunami Debris can be found here.

Canada is working closely with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA is leading efforts with federal, state, and local partners to collect data, assess the debris, and reduce possible impacts to natural resources and coastal communities. The latest information from NOAA can be found at http://marinedebris.noaa.gov.

Tsunami Debris Monitoring Guidelines

(courtesy of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA)

Canada’s Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee is working with NOAA on shoreline monitoring and advises Canadians who would like to collect information to review the instructions below and download NOAA’s smartphone application (see below) to record, visualize, and share data.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) provides information to individuals or groups interested in undertaking shoreline monitoring studies for Japan tsunami marine debris. Effective monitoring of changes in environmental conditions, such as the abundance of marine debris, requires a good deal of forethought. Here are some tips and suggestions:

  1. Clear objectives and methods: Monitoring projects should have clearly stated objectives and use agreed-upon methods and field measurements to allow for comparability of data with previous research and that conducted in other areas.
  2. Baseline data monitoring: In order to detect a change in the concentration of marine debris over time, reliable baseline data is needed. Thus, if you are interested in monitoring to detect a pulse of tsunami-related debris, we suggest regular sampling begin well before the expected arrival of the tsunami debris in your area. At least one year would be ideal.
  3. Debris type information: Gathering information on the type of debris found (e.g., lumber, plastic, rubber, fabric, metal, glass) is important. With this information, changes in the types and amounts of marine debris over time may be seen. For example, you may begin to notice an unusual increase in a certain type of debris item around the time of predicted tsunami debris arrival to your area.

    Note: All tsunami debris sightings should be directed to NOAA’s email address designated for this purpose. DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.

    To request a copy of the MDP's Shoreline Survey Field Guide and electronic data sheet please send an email to MD.monitoring@noaa.gov.

Links and Resources:

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Ministry of Environment

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