Articles: Communications,Cruising

Tsunami Debris on the B.C. Coast

Last year's tsunami in Japan seems like a long time ago but its effects are sadly still being felt today. While we do not have to go through the hardships that the survivors of the tsunami are going through overseas, B.C. and Pacific coast residents are dealing with the recent issue of debris from the tsunami washing up on our beaches. You may be thinking that this debris could be from anywhere, but the appearance of items such as a Harley Davidson motorcycle from Japan and bottles with Japanese writing go to prove that it must be from the tsunami. Other debris includes barrel-size chunks of Styrofoam and various other objects made of lumber, plastic, and glass, all of which can be hazardous to ocean life and maybe even us.

The B.C. government has set up a monitoring program at the Gwaii Haanas, Pacific Rim, and three other National Parks to find out how much and what kind of debris is washing up on the beaches. About 1.5 million tonnes of debris from the tsunami is expected to be floating across the Pacific Ocean, and the bulk of the debris is not expected to hit the B.C. coast till next year. But it is still a major cause for concern, since the debris has the potential to cause a lot of damage to marine ecosystems.

But while the government and environmental organizations are taking action, what can residents and boaters do to address this issue? If you are visiting a national park, burning debris on the beaches is not allowed. Also, if you find any debris, it should be removed immediately. This is something you can do if manageable or contact park staff for assistance. Coastal community residents can join volunteer groups that are in the process of cleaning the beaches and also monitoring them regularly. While out boating, if you notice debris floating in the water, notify the Coast Guard to have it removed as soon as possible. By doing our part, we can play a role in minimizing the effects of this issue. Keeping our beaches clean is important, and it is our responsibility as residents of the B.C. coast.

Please comment on this post if you feel strongly about this issue, would like to know more, or want to suggest another topic regarding environmental issues.

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