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Japan confirms dock is 2011 tsunami debris

tsunami dock blue

                                                                                                                                                       State Department of Ecology photo

Jan. 3 2013 expedition to dock at Olympic National Park



State Department of Ecology report - issued Thursday, January 14, 2013

The Japanese government has confirmed that the dock was washed into the Pacific Ocean during the March 11, 2011, tsunami. Based on the fender production serial number in a picture, the Japanese government positively identified the dock as coming from Aomori Prefecture.
Determining the origin of marine debris is challenging. When possible, NOAA works closely with the government of Japan to determine whether an item originated in the tsunami impact zone. To date, 19 items have been definitively traced back to the tsunami, typically by registration number or some other unique marking. This is the fourth confirmed item found in Washington.

The dock beached in December on a remote shore within the boundaries of both the Olympic National Park and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Scientists suspected the dock was from Japan, since state and federal responders found dozens of plant and animal species on the structure that were native to Japan, not Washington state. The dock was similar to the structure that washed ashore near Newport, Ore., last summer which was also confirmed to be from the Japanese tsunami.

Pinpointing the origin of marine debris is challenging. When possible, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) works closely with the government of Japan to determine whether an item originated in the tsunami impact zone. To date, 19 items have been definitively traced back to the tsunami, typically by registration number or some other unique marking. This is the fourth confirmed item found on the shores of Washington state.

In this case, NOAA worked with, and greatly appreciates the assistance from, many Japanese agencies to identify where the dock came from, including:
Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle; Secretariat of Headquarters for Ocean Policy, Cabinet Secretariat of the Government of Japan; the Fisheries Agency of Japan; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Aomori Prefectural Government.

In order to minimize damage to the coastline and marine habitat, federal agencies are moving forward with plans to remove the dock. In addition to being located within a designated wilderness portion of Olympic National Park, the dock is also within NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and adjacent to the Washington Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  

NOAA has announced a Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit proposals from professional marine salvage contractors. Information can be found at: https://www.fbo.gov/spg/DOC/NOAA/WASC/AB133C-13-RP-0144/listing.html  The deadline for submitting proposals is 2 p.m./Pacific on Jan. 22, 2013.

Marine debris is an ongoing problem with everyday impacts. Anyone sighting significant marine debris that may be from the tsunami is asked to report it to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov. For the latest information on tsunami debris please visit http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/tsunamidebris/ and http://marinedebris.wa.gov/.

For more information:

Videos of the dock are posted on Ecology's Flickr site (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecologywa/sets/72157632519730495/)  

Photos of the dock are posted on Ecology's Flickr site (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecologywa/sets/72157632473219008/)

Forks Docks Incident Website (http://marinedebris.wa.gov/incidents/ForksDock.html)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program (http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/tsunamidebris/)
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