The Department of Land and Natural Resources says a fishing skiff found by a Hawaii longline fishing vessel 700 nautical miles northeast of Maui is confirmed as Japanese tsunami debris. The F/V Zephyr brought the 20- by 6-foot skiff to Honolulu Harbor’s Pier 38 Friday morning, along with its catch.
DLNR coordinated with the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu and the Japanese government and were able to confirm the boat’s point of original using its registration numbers. The boat was washed away during the tsunami. The owners say they do not want the boat back.
William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson, said, “The State of Hawaii is grateful to the Japan Consulate for their continued excellent assistance to confirm origin of this item and contact the owner. This is believed to be the second confirmed piece of Japan tsunami marine debris in Hawaii.”
He also said, “DLNR marine invasive species personnel inspected the skiff this morning and determined that it was completely clean of any marine organisms. When discovered, the skiff was covered with gooseneck barnacles with some crabs mixed in, very similar to the composition found on the Suisan blue bin. It hauled aboard the F/V Zephyr where the crew did a very good job of cleaning it,” said “This important step helps reduce the introduction of possible invasive species into Hawaii. ??Aila added, “Department of Health personnel also checked the skiff for any radiation, which showed normal background levels of radiation, similar to other debris objects that have already arrived.”
The Hawaii inter-agency Japan tsunami marine debris group is working together to share reported marine debris sightings, facilitate coordinated response as needed, and regularly communicate to the public. ? Aila says that DLNR, representing the State, is working with the State Departments of Health and Transportation, the Coast Guard, and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and local boaters and fishermen to find any debris from the Japanese tsunami. A key concern is ensuring invasive species don’t enter Hawaii as “passengers” on any of the debris.
Since the identification last month of a large blue plastic fishing bin as the first officially confirmed piece of Japan tsunami marine debris, Hawaii residents have contacted DLNR and other agencies to report various items that have included: pieces of Styrofoam, large buoys typically used in oyster farming, a large rubber float, a beer crate, tire, plastic containers, hard hat, and large light bulbs.
In most cases it is extremely difficult to determine whether debris came from the tsunami, without unique identifying information. Many of these items have washed up on Hawaii’s shores prior to the tsunami.
“We appreciate our residents’ attention to marine debris, which is an everyday problem in Hawaii. Our outdoor lifestyles mean that there are many of us who will find and can report items, especially those which may be covered with marine organisms or writing. We encourage the public to continue to help pick up and remove marine debris and litter from our beaches, when safe to do so,” said Aila.