NGOs team up on tsunami debris

Kyodo

Nongovernmental groups from Japan and the United States have kicked off a three-day workshop to share knowledge and plan for the influx of tsunami debris in North America.

Representatives from the Japan Environmental Action Network, an NGO focused on marine debris, met Saturday with experts from the U.S.-based nonprofit organization Ocean Conservancy and coastal cleanup coordinators from five U.S. states expecting more tsunami debris from the disaster spawned by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 to wash up on their shores this fall.

The groups from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii will share concerns ranging from wildlife impact to the disposal logistics for large objects, such as the dock from Aomori that landed in Oregon in June.

The talks will help pinpoint the needs of the affected areas so the Environment Ministry can decide how to help via the Japanese NGO.

On Saturday, participants visited Cannon Beach, where they picked up trash and talked with local residents about how marine debris affects the area.

Rich Mays, city manager of Cannon Beach, told the Japanese representatives he was “gratified that you would think to come over and help us,” even though the debris that has arrived is only a fraction of that expected.