Two Marine Debris Program staffers are participating in NOAA’s annual mission to remove derelict nets and other marine debris from sensitive coral reefs and shorelines in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. An estimated 52 tons of derelict fishing gear washes up in the Monument each year, threatening the pristine ecosystem. Follow their journey.
By: Dianna Parker
Mission Log 7
A few days into operations at Pearl and Hermes Atoll, the marine debris divers stumbled across three fishing boats from Japan. Similar boats that were torn away from Japan during the 2011 tsunami have turned up in Hawaii, the West Coast of the United States, and Canada over the past three years.
Two of the 30-foot boats were found floating upside down in the atoll. They appear to be in good condition with minimal biofouling and intact registration numbers. The Sette crew was able to lift them both on board, so they will return to Honolulu with us and our nets. From there, we can work with the Japan consulate to confirm whether they were indeed lost during the tsunami and then try to identify their owners.
The third boat was submerged in the water and too damaged to tow; the divers noted its location and continued surveying but were unable to locate it again when they returned.
If the two boats are indeed tsunami debris, it will bring the total number of items found within the Monument to six. In 2012 and 2013, two other boats were located at Midway Atoll, along with a sign and a blue seafood bin.
To date, NOAA has received approximately 2,000 reports of potential tsunami debris to its DisasterDebris@noaa.gov email address. We have positively identified 53 of those items as debris from the tsunami.