Boat confirmed as Japan tsunami debris

Published  5:11 PM HST Dec 07, 2012
HONOLULU -

An open boat recovered on Dec. 1, from the shoreline of Kahana Bay is the fourth confirmed Japan tsunami marine debris item for Hawaii, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The confirmation was made by the Government of Japan, with assistance from the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program.

"The State of Hawaii is particularly grateful to the Japan Consulate for its continued excellent assistance in confirming the origin of items and contacting the owners,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson, the state’s lead agency on marine debris response.  "The state will continue to work collaboratively with other agencies and the government of Japan to address further reports. We encourage the public to continue to report marine debris they suspect may have originated in Japan by calling 587-0400 or sending information and photos to dlnr.marine.debris@hawaii.gov and disasterdebris@noaa.gov."

Some biofouling by various marine organisms was found on parts of the broken boat, which was registered in the Iwate Prefecture in northern Japan.  Organisms identified included some common gooseneck barnacles, algae, and a few species of pelagic crabs, which are not considered biological threats. However, a type of blue mussel in the genus Mytilus was also found and may be alien to Hawaii.  NOAA, Bishop Museum, and the University of Hawaii are working together to narrow down identification to the species level.  

The approximately 20-foot boat was reportedly seen floating whole on Thursday, Nov. 29 in Kahana Bay.  By Friday afternoon, when the boat was officially reported, it had broken up into pieces on rocks on the northward outer edge of the bay. DLNR staff were able to retrieve pieces of the boat from the rocky shoreline and from offshore where they had been scattered. Identifying information on pieces of the broken boat included Japanese characters (kanji) on a section of the bow and Japanese registration numbers on pieces of the stern. Radiation testing was conducted by the State Department of Health today and nothing above normal was found.

As of Nov. 29, NOAA has received approximately 1,400 official debris reports to disasterdebris@noaa.gov from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With the assistance of the Consulates and Government of Japan, 17 items have been confirmed as lost during the March 2011 tsunami.

"While not every item may be traceable back to Japan, it is still important that the public help ensure the health and safety of our community and our coastal environment by reporting bulky, hazardous, large or unusual items in our waters or coastline," Aila said. “Smaller items can be reported and disposed of safely.  We are thankful for the efforts of community groups on every island who have been active in reporting items to the state and NOAA, and helping to properly dispose of them."

For the latest information on tsunami debris, please visit the NOAA Marine Debris Program website about the Japanese tsunami debris at http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/tsunamidebris/.

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