Confirmation pending assistance by NOAA and Consulate General of Japan in Hawaii
KAILUA-KONA — A Kona fisherman has retrieved what could be the sixth confirmed item of Japan tsunami marine debris in Hawaii.
Tuesday afternoon (Jan 15), Randy Llanes, Kona captain of the fishing vessel Sundowner, brought to Honokohau small boat harbor, a 24-foot Japanese net boat with a deep “V” bow that was found floating about 4 miles out at sea. Other vessels reportedly had been fishing around it that morning, since fish are attracted to the marine growth and the protection a boat provides.
Llanes contacted the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ (DLNR) marine debris call-in line at (808) 587-0400 and kept in touch with Hawaii District Boating Manager, Nancy Murphy, to coordinate his arrival Tuesday afternoon at Honokohau.
DLNR immediately notified the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program and kept the program informed at all times. NOAA in turn notified its U.S. Coast Guard and National Parks Service contacts. The state Department of Health has been contacted regarding a testing for radiation levels.
While still at sea, Llanes spoke by phone with DLNR’s aquatic invasive species specialist, Jonathan Blodgett, who determined that Llanes had already scraped off blue mussels, an alien species in Hawaii, well out at sea, leaving only typical gooseneck barnacles that are common pelagic species and not harmful to native marine species.
Llanes told DLNR officials the skiff appeared identical to the four other small boats that have arrived in Hawaii waters since October 2012. He said he found it upside down and flipped it over.
As was done with the other four boats, NOAA will work with the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu and Government of Japan on determination of the vessel’s origin and owner, if possible.
“On behalf of NOAA and the State of Hawaii, we ask that anyone who finds personal items, which may have come from the tsunami, to please report them to county, state and/or federal officials,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. “Please show aloha and respect to the people of Japan, and the regions that suffered devastation from the 2011 tsunami. Remember, these items may be all someone has left.”
By being able to communicate with this boater in advance of his arrival, DLNR was able to quickly provide important guidance to prevent introduction of possible invasive marine species to island waters, and to ensure the skiff was met on arrival and properly handled and stored pending ownership verification.
DLNR recommends that boaters, fishers and coastal users view online guidelines for reporting and handling marine debris, including possible Japan tsunami marine debris (JTMD). They can be found on DLNR’s updated website at www.hawaii.gov/dlnr.
As of Jan. 10, 2013 — NOAA has received more than 1,400 reports of potential Japan tsunami marine debris to email@example.com from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With the assistance of the Consulates and Government of Japan, 18 items have been confirmed as lost during the March 2011 tsunami.
Prior to this recent boat, five confirmed items have arrived in Hawaii since Sept. 18, 2012: 1) a large blue plastic bin; 2) a fishing boat recovered 700 miles north of Maui by a Hawaii longline fisherman; 3) a skiff found at Midway Atoll; 4) a skiff found at Kahana Bay, Oahu; and 5) a skiff found at Punaluu, Oahu (four boats, one plastic bin). “While not every item may be traceable back to Japan, it is still important that the public help ensure the health and safety of our community and our coastal environment by reporting bulky, hazardous, large or unusual items in our waters or coastline,” Aila said. “Smaller items can be reported and disposed of safely. “We are thankful for the efforts of community groups on every island who have been active in reporting items to the state and NOAA, and helping to properly dispose of them.”
For the latest information on tsunami debris, please visit the NOAA Marine Debris Program website at marinedebris.noaa.gov/tsunamid….