Five coastal First Nations have been awarded $60,000 over one year to establish a tsunami debris management and cleanup program along the central coast of British Columbia, north of Vancouver Island to the Alaska Panhandle.
The successful proposal was made by the Coastal First Nations/Great Bear Initiative to support the Metlakatla (Prince Rupert), Gitga'at (Hartley Bay), Kitasoo/Xaixais (Klemtu), Heiltsuk (Bella Bella) and Wuikinuxv (Rivers Inlet) Nations' efforts to monitor, clean up and dispose of tsunami debris in their traditional territory.
The funds will help each community establish two remote access beach cleanup sites and support the guardian watchmen who monitor for unusual debris along the coastlines they patrol. A portion of the funds will also be used for community outreach, recognizing that the long, rugged and remote central coast can use as many eyes as possible looking for tsunami debris.
Each Nation has identified priority areas, islands and beaches they plan to target. As with many activities on B.C.'s coast, weather and currents will play a significant role in determining the sites that can be accessed safely. The Nations plan to work with other agencies, including BC Parks, to identify and address any impact they find on the Central Coast.
The funding is available through the one-time grant the Government of Japan presented to the Government of Canada earlier this year, for approximately $1 million, to help clean up tsunami debris resulting from the tragic 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.
The Haida Gwaii Tsunami Debris Committee - comprising other Coastal First Nations from the communities of Queen Charlotte, Skidegate, Old Massett, Masset and Port Clements - recently received funding to help in their collaborative efforts to develop a plan for managing tsunami debris.
Funding will be available for the next two fiscal years to help with shoreline cleanup efforts and disposal of debris. Regional, collaborative applications with affected coastal First Nations and local governments are encouraged.
More information on the application process, including criteria, can be found at: www.tsunamidebrisbc.ca
All funding decisions will be made by the federal-provincial Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee (TDCC). Representatives from Environment Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Environment serve as co-chairs of the TDCC.
Mary Polak, Minister of Environment -
"Volunteers and organizations of all levels are stepping up to support coastal communities' debris cleanup. The active involvement of the Gitga'at, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Metlakatla and Wuikinuxv First Nations along some of B.C.'s most rugged and remote coastline is commendable and appreciated by all British Columbians."
Art Sterritt, executive director, Coastal First Nations -
"The potential impact of tsunami debris on the coast is of serious concern to our communities. These funds will help prioritize monitoring and cleanup activities in areas that have high cultural and ecological value."
- The tsunami washed an estimated five million tonnes of debris into the sea. An estimated 70 per cent sank off the coast of Japan, leaving approximately 1.5 million tonnes floating in the Pacific Ocean.
- Since leaving the coast of Japan, the debris has been widely dispersed by ocean currents and winds. Some of it continues to sink or be trapped in the garbage gyres. To date, B.C. has seen less debris than originally anticipated.
- The Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee continues to co-ordinate with American Pacific coastal agencies in Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and with the Government of Japan.
- Large collections of debris or significant objects should be reported to: DisasterDebris@noaa.gov
- If a person sees something on the beach that appears to be a source of pollution or hazardous material, they should contact the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre at 1 800 663-3456.
To see a map of confirmed tsunami debris sightings, please visit: http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/tsunamidebris/debris-map.html
BC Newsroom - Ministry of Environment: www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/ministries/environment-1
Ministry of Environment