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Guidelines For Tsunami Debris

Officials recently issued guidelines for reporting suspected marine debris from the Japan tsunami along island beaches.

Published in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the advisory recommends caution and lists contacts for the casual beachgoer to use.

While items from Asia frequently wash ashore in Hawaii, it is “significant changes in the type and amount of debris” that are potential indicators, the guidelines state.

Residents should approach with caution, however: “If you don’t know what it is, and it looks hazardous, don’t touch it. Collect as much information as you can from a safe distance.”

A boat drifting into Kahana Bay, and another at Punaluu – both between Thanksgiving and Christmas – were determined by DLNR officials to be swept to sea after Japan’s 9.0 earthquake in March of 2011.

Radioactive contamination has not been detected in tsunami items so far, but living organisms – other than gooseneck barnacles – can be a concern and should be inspected by a biologist specializing in invasive species.

To report suspect items, call the DLNR at 578-0400. Additional email contacts are also listed: dlnr.marine.debris@hawaii.gov, disasterdebris@noaa.gov.