Ucluelet's Marine Debris Program
Ucluelet's Marine Debris Program Summary
There still remains a level of uncertainty on the quantity and movement of the Japanese tsunami debris following the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. Monitoring the approximately 1.5 million tons of floating material in the Pacific isn't as easy task, as wind effects and ocean currents greatly disperse materials leaving satellite tracking ineffective. Based on forecasts, the bulk of the debris is anticipated to arrive in waters off Alaska to California in 2013, and expected to trickle in for several years.
The District of Ucluelet's Environmental and Emergency Service Department initiated Ucluelet's Marine Debris Program in March 2012 in efforts to manage driftage material from the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. The program has gained respect and recognition from neighbouring communities and jurisdictions, all levels of governments, international scientists, and the people of Japan. This local initiative has been recognized as a program that can serve as a model for other local governments planning.
To help address the possible influx of tsunami driftage material, Environmental and Emergency Service Manager Karla Robison, established a scientific monitoring site through the NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project, directed large scale clean-up projects which at times required specialized cleanup teams, developed a response and recovery plan, initiated a regional emergency committee, and assisted the Provincial and Federal Tsunami debris coordinating Committee. The Department and a small team of volunteers discovered and analysed the first pieces of recognized Japan Tsunami Marine Debris (JTMD) material with probable Japanese species to be recognized in British Columbia and the first JTMD wood to land in North America with living Japanese biofouling. Throughout the program, a communications and education plan evolved to administer media relations from local to international audiences, and to advise the public on matters. The Department recently received $81,538 in tsunami debris cleanup funds from the $ 1 million grant that was graciously provided by the Japan government to the government of Canada. The successful proposal is supported by significant in-kind contributions in terms of volunteer efforts and resources from 26 collaborative partner agencies and organizations. The one-year program is within Ucluelet's municipal boundary, the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, and Nuu-chah-nulth territory.
The Department continues to collaborate with local and international partners to collect data, assess the debris, and reduce possible impacts to our natural resources and coastal communities. The community of Ucluelet is very grateful for the support, generosity, and volunteerism received by partner agencies and organizations, and the people of Japan.
Please see the following links for an update and public information sheet released by the Federal and Provincial Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee.
For more information, including FAQs, please visit B.C. Ministry of Environment tsunami debris website or contact our Fire & Emergency Services Manager, Fire Chief - Rick Geddes at 250-726-7744.