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The earthquake and tsunami that destroyed parts of eastern Japan in March 2011 washed vast amounts of debris into the Pacific Ocean. The buoyant portion of that debris is making its way toward the US. Based on models, first landfall of the debris could occur in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) — designated as Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument by President George W. Bush — as early as January/February 2012.
A free 90-minute webinar this Monday, Dec. 12, will examine how US and Hawaiian resource managers and partners are preparing for impacts of the tsunami debris on the NWHI ecosystem, which includes Midway Atoll. A webinar is a Web-based seminar that allows the public to interact directly with panelists via computer or phone.
The webinar “Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris: Anticipating and Mitigating Its Impacts on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands” starts at 10 am Hawaii time (noon Pacific; 3 pm Eastern), and is open to the media and public. To register, go to https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/864409841
The NWHI are home to 23 endangered or threatened species including the Hawaiian monk seal and several sea turtle species. The ecosystem also provides habitat for 14 million sea birds.
Lessons from the NWHI tsunami debris response, including on the nature and quantity of debris encountered, will inform responses when the debris eventually reaches the US West Coast, expected in 2013.
Panelists for the webinar will include:
The webinar is hosted by Marine Affairs Research and Education, or MARE. MARE is founder of the MarineDebris.Info online discussion forum and also publishes the newsletter MPA News on marine protected areas.