Governor Sean Parnell today welcomed the news that the government of Japan plans to contribute $6 million towards the cleanup of marine debris in Alaska, the other Pacific states, and the Canadian Province of British Columbia. This news was announced by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at a conference with U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and conveyed to state officials by the Consular Office of Japan in Anchorage.
"The people of Alaska appreciate this expression of goodwill," the Governor said. "This will help in the ongoing efforts to remove and dispose of debris that reaches Alaska's coasts."
The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in March 2011. The government of Japan estimates that the tsunami left nearly 1.5 million tons of material drifting off the coast of Japan. Evidence that debris from the tsunami is already reaching Alaska was observed this summer.
In July, Governor Parnell signed an Administrative Order to facilitate a continuing timely and effective response to the marine debris. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is leading the state task force.
"Private cleanup crews working on the outer beaches of the Kenai Peninsula and on islands in the Gulf of Alaska this summer reported a marked increase in the amount of marine debris they found on certain beaches compared to previous years," according to DEC Commissioner Larry Hartig. "The type of debris they found is consistent with much of it having originated from the March 2011 tsunami. An aerial survey contracted for by DEC, and which is still being evaluated, supports these observations."
DEC has established a marine debris information website. Current information on marine debris efforts may be found on the website along with directions on how to report any observations of marine debris. The website is available at: