The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the state’s lead agency for responding to reported possible Japan tsunami marine debris in Hawaii, is coordinating with NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard to identify the current location of a 30 by 50-foot floating dock that was last seen on Wednesday, September 19, by fishermen off the north coast of Molokai.
The dock is believed to be identical to three others reported missing from Japan after the March 2011 tsunami. Another one recently came ashore on an Oregon beach earlier this year. ??”DLNR’s priority, with the critical help of the public and federal partners, is to re-find this large floating object, which is a hazard to vessels at sea and the wellbeing of our coastal resources. We need to be able to track its movement to try to intercept and handle the dock at sea, and to prevent serious environmental damage if it should reach shore,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.
DLNR has requested that boaters, fishers and pilots be alert to the possible presence of the dock and to immediately report any sightings of the dock to (808) 587-0400. NOAA is also requesting that sightings of marine debris be reported to email@example.com.
The Japan Consulate in Honolulu has been notified and, if the dock is relocated, will work with DLNR and NOAA to confirm the dock’s origin.
DLNR and the Department of Health (with assistance as needed from other state agencies) along with NOAA, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S .Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working together on the Hawaii response to marine debris from the 2011 Japan earthquake and resulting tsunami. The inter-agency working group is coordinating with various federal, state and county partners, as appropriate, to facilitate response and regularly communicate to the public. NOAA continues to assist with model trajectories for possible movement of the dock by currents and winds, and has readied two satellite tracking buoys for state use should the dock be located. ??On Tuesday, DLNR received a call from a Molokai resident who reported seeing styrofoam on a rocky cliff shoreline on the Molokai north coast. DLNR arranged for its Maui helicopter contractor to survey the north shores of Molokai and Lanai Wednesday afternoon. Two staff members from the Division of Aquatic Resources Maui office participated as observers.
A large quantity of foam pieces were noticed west of Moomomi and a ball of fishing debris. However there was no sighting of the dock in either location. ??DLNR also received a report Wednesday from a Laie resident who had found two large and one smaller black buoy on a local beach. There was no marine growth on them. The buoys were tested by the Department of Health and normal background levels of radiation were found.