A. Purpose: The March 2011 tsunami event that struck Japan resulted in an estimated release of 5 million tons of marine debris, forcibly pushed into the Pacific Ocean. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates the majority of this material sank, but predicts that approximately 1.25 million tons of debris remained afloat, generally drifting toward the coastal environments of the North American continent. The leading edge of this tsunami generated marine debris is believed to have begun making landfall in both the coastal and straits regions of Washington, bringing with it new concerns about potential environmental impacts. In addition to being a bulk pollutant, tsunami marine debris may also act as a vector for aquatic invasive species (AIS) and unknown hazardous materials (HAZMAT). As the lead State agency chartered to protect and conserve natural resources, WDFW has an obligation to design protocols to mitigate emergent threats to supporting ecosystems. The tsunami marine debris represents an emergent and considerable threat.
B. Scope: This plan is applicable to WDFW employees and WDFW volunteers. The activities and procedures prescribed within it are for application in public access areas. These protocols may be extended to support Federal partners and upon private lands when appropriate permissions and agreements have been granted in accordance with law. The duration of these activities is considered long term (ten years).