Local organizations on the Oregon coast are partnering with NOAA, Oregon Sea Grant Extension, state and local agencies and conservation groups on a series of community meetings to share current information and science about the marine debris left by the 2011 Japanese tsunami.
The meetings will take place between April 11 and 20 in coastal communities from Port Orford to Seaside, and inland in Portland and Eugene.
Debris pulled out to sea by the Japanese tsunami last March is gradually riding the Pacific currents toward the US west coast, raising public questions about everything from derelict “ghost” ships to what to expect while beachcombing. Oceanographers predict that the bulk of the debris could arrive on U.S. shores next year, but no one can yet predict when – or how much.
“Right now, as a result of the tragic tsunami disaster, Brookings, Oregon, is rebuilding, Japan is reeling and the West Coast states are preparing to clean up an unprecedented amount of debris being carried to our coast on the ocean currents. Our oceans connect us and are essential to a healthy environment and economy,” said Cylvia Hayes, First Lady of Oregon. “These workshops are important to helping us effectively deal with the tsunami debris and better protect the health of oceans and coastal communities.”
Non-profit organizations that specialize in caring for Oregon’s shoreline and coping with litter report an overwhelming volume of requests and questions from their volunteers and the public about the possible arrival of tsunami-related debris. These organizations (SOLV, Surfrider Foundation, the CoastWatch program of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, the Washed Ashore Project) are partnering with Oregon Sea Grant Extension to sponsor information sessions featuring staff from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program.
Key speaker will be Nir Barnea, the NOAA program’s West Coast regional coordinator, who will describe what is known about the contents and trajectory of the debris, and what is being done across the Pacific to prepare to deal with it.
The NOAA speaker will be joined by speakers from the U.S. Coast Guard, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division, County Emergency Managers, and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Local waste managers and coastal haulers have also been invited for their experience in handling marine debris.
All events are free and open to the public. Audience members will have a chance to ask questions about everything from public health to returning any personal valuables that may be found amid the debris.
Tentative list of times and locations:
- April 11th, Seaside 2-3:30 pm, Seaside Community Center
- April 11, Bay City 6-7:30 pm, Bay City Arts Center
- April 12, Pacific City 10-11:30 am, Kiwanda Community Center
- April 12, Newport 6-7:30 pm, Newport City Hall
- April 13, Florence 10-11:30 am, Florence Fire Station
- April 13, North Bend 2-3:30 pm, North Bend Public Library
- April 13, Bandon 6-7:30 pm, City Council Chamber/City Hall
- April 14, Port Orford 10-11:00 am, American Legion Hall
- April 14, Eugene 3:00-4:30 pm, EWEB Training Center, 500 East 4th Ave N Bldg
- April 15, Portland 3:30-5:00 pm, Ecotrust Natural Capital Center, 721 NW 9th Ave
- April 20, Cannon Beach, time and location TBD
Updated information about meeting dates and locations will be available from www.solv.org
Participating groups expect to conduct organizing and education efforts later this year to strengthen their citizen response networks before the expected arrival of the bulk of the debris.
For more information about the meetings, contact Jamie Doyle, Oregon Sea Grant Extension, agent for the south coast
For more information about the Japanese tsunami debris, see NOAA’s Japan Tsunami Debris FAQ