First Marine Debris From Japan Confirmed in Hawaiian Waters
By Wendy Osher
The first piece of marine debris to arrive in Hawai’i from the March 2011 Japan tsunami has been confirmed by state officials.
The large blue plastic storage bin was found floating in the ocean off Waimanalo, O‘ahu, on September 18, 2012. The 4-foot cube bin, which is used for transport of live and frozen seafood, was spotted mid-way between Manana Island and the nearby pier by Makai Ocean Engineering staff.
With the assistance of the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu and the Japanese government, officials have confirmed that the item was from Y.K. Suisan, Co., Ltd., whose offices in Miyagi prefecture, Tohoku Sendai region, were affected by the 2011 event.
“The Department of Land and Natural Resources, NOAA and all other agencies involved in this matter extend their appreciation for the generous help provided by the Japanese Consulate and Government,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.
“It is encouraging that our agencies and governments are working together so cohesively in identifying potential Japan tsunami marine debris,” he said.
The bin was retrieved by the Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory and taken by DLNR aquatic resources personnel to its research facility on Sand Island, where samples of marine organisms were identified.
Authorities say the organisms are common pelagic species that are non-invasive to Hawai’i–including gooseneck barnacle and crabs that live on floating debris in open ocean areas.
Officials from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources say the bin was cleaned, and a scan of the bin by state Department of Health technicians showed radiation readings were within normal background levels.
Prior to the bin confirmation, Hawaii News Now reported the discovery of a runaway dock, last seen floating 15 miles north of Molokai Wednesday evening. The network reports that it’s believed to be one of four that came from Misawa, Japan.