Thursday, April 19, 2012

2:00 – 4:00 pm


10 Sand Island Access Road (Right after drawbridge)

The meeting was called to order by Robin Bond at 2:00 pm. There were 40 members in attendance.

1.     Update on the Japan Tsunami Debris Situation by Jan Hafner and Ruth Yender

A.        Jan Hafner, Nikolai Maximenko, IPRC/SOEST University of Hawaii with collaborators and contributors: Rick Lumpkin, Luca Centurioni,  Yi Chao,  Doug Woodring, Hank Carson et al.

Update on SCUD model tsunami debris the chart showed debris field to the North and East of the Hawaiian Islands with the NWHI still protected by currents.

Debris observed on the West coast, December 2011 fishing floats on Vancouver Island, Olympic Peninsula Washington, and Whale Island Alaska. On 20 March 2012 a Japan fishing vessel was observed 150 nm south off Haida Gwaii BC.  The USCG sank the vessel.

 Light objects – floats, large ships –  subject to the force of wind more that debris floating completely in the water; thus, moving faster. Different types of debris with various windage move differently. Our current model of tsunami debris does not account for windage.  At IPRC the future plans are to upgrade our model to include the effect of wind on various types of marine debris

Heavy type of debris sitting deep in the water will follow the currents and majority will end in the North Pacific Garbage Patch before reaching the West Coast.

On Midway a float, washed on Kure Atoll on 29 Dec. 2011 (it appeared to be owned by Big Island fisheries).  There are no reports of any unusual debris from Kure or Midway Atolls as Kure and Midway are protected for the time being by an oceanic front NW of the atolls.  The front actually observed by Jim Mackey during our 2011 Tsunami Debris Expedition.

Scripps is collecting and posting the data from the 11 buoys now at sea, along the eastern edge of part of the debris plume (as of April 8, 2012).The website links are:
and the originator of the drifter’s data”


This spring, (the end of May and June) multi-ship surveys in the tsunami field these ship surveys are being planned  by:  Algalita Foundation/5gyres, Ocean Voyages/Kaisei Project and IPRC UH/Scripts/Ocean Recovery Alliance.

Additional website for information from the Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet: and University of Hawaii International Pacific Research Center’s website:

B.        Ruth Yender, Japan Tsunami Marine Debris Coordinator, NOAA Marine Debris Program

NOAA is using the OSCURS (surface current model; Ocean Surface Current Simulator).  The  Forecast is based on historical data and lower windage is used.  For the NWHI NOAA is predicting debris will start impacting the coastlines during the winter 2011/2012; for the W. coast and AK – 2013; MHI – 2014.

NOAA is also using the GNOME (oil spill model; General NOAA Operational Modeling Environment) to run in Hindcast. GNOME results indicate that some high windage debris may have reached waters off the Pacific.

The Navy HyCOM (ocean currents) and NOAA data (wind) 1-5% the windage suggest that the Northwest U.S.  coast should experience some of the debris as early as winter 2011-2012.  The majority of simulated debris particles are dispersed north and east of the Hawaiian Archipelago.

NOAA expects widely scattered debris may show up intermittently along shorelines for a long period of time, over the next year or longerReported sightings tracked on NOAA Environmental Response Management Application.  NOAA has only three confirmed sightingsof Japan tsunami marine debris.

In Summary, what we know is:

• Likely debris sank near shore off Japan coast

• Debris is dispersed and not in large concentrations or


• Debris will drift with eastward with currents and winds

• Sightings – Three sightings of confirmed Japan tsunami marine

debris, all vessels

• Tsunami debris added to an existing problem

• Will be difficult to distinguish most tsunami marine debris

from other marine debris

• Very highly unlikely marine debris is radioactive

What we do not know is:

How much remains floating? Unknown the estimates from Japan Water Environment Division (Marine Environment Office Environment Bureau, Ministry of the Environment, Water, Air; 3/9/12 release):

• Approx. 5 million tons of debris washed into the ocean

• 70% of that likely sank near shore

• 30% (1.5 million tons) still floating soon after tsunami

• How of that still remains afloat at this time = ?

• Figures in most media (5-20+ million tons) = unsubstantiated

• Types of debris? Relatively unknown

• Hawaii receives marine debris from across the Pacific,

including Japan

• Difficult to source identify Japan tsunami marine debris

Tsunami Marine Debris – Actions

1. Detection by Satellite, Aerial, Vessel

2. Modeling

3. Monitoring establish Baseline data

4. Planning  and Regional Preparedness

5. Communication

Detection and Monitoring


• Call for “significant sightings” of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean; report to   

• NOAA vessel partners on the look-out

• Aerial sightings: Coast Guard enforcement flights

• High resolution satellite imagery


• Northwestern Hawaiian Islands monitoring: Tern Island, Midway Atoll, and Kure Atoll

• Shoreline sightings; report to

• NOAA Marine Debris Program Shoreline Monitoring Guide and data sheet –

The NOAA Marine Debris website link is:  and the E-mail address for observations:

2.     Rescue 21 PROJECT

USCG CDR Steve Wheeler discussed the Rescue 21 Project. The Coast Guard’s advanced command, control and direction-finding communications system, was created to better locate mariners in distress and save property at sea and on navigable rivers. By harnessing today’s state of the market technology, Rescue 21 enables the Coast Guard to execute all its missions–especially its search and rescue mission–with greater agility and efficiency.

Rescue 21 provides first responders with upgraded tools and technology needed to protect America’s waterways. As Coast Guard Sectors are outfitted with Rescue 21, it replaces the National Distress Response System in use since the 1970s. One of the most significant improvements is Rescue 21’s ability to more accurately identify the location of callers in distress with lines of bearing to the source of the Very High Frequency (VHF) radio transmission, thereby reducing search times and enabling the Coast Guard to save lives and property at sea and on navigable rivers. Additionally, the system’s geographic display capabilities assists in identifying the location of hoax callers, conserving valuable search and rescue response resources. The system also supports Digital Selective Calling (DSC), allowing boaters requiring assistance to transmit their exact Global positioning Satellite (GPS) position to the Coast Guard and other DSC-equipped vessels.

Rescue 21’s expanded capabilities enable greater sharing of information and coordination with other Department of Homeland Security agencies, federal, and state emergency response or law enforcement personnel. The Rescue 21 system will be fully deployed by the end of 2012 throughout the coastal continental United States, Great Lakes, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Remote sites in Alaska and along the Western Rivers will obtain modified coverage Rescue 21 by 2017.

3.      Update of the Hawaii Tsunami Preparedness planning committee by the USCG:  CDR. Scott Whaley updated the General Membership.  The plan is written and will be in the Federal Register there will be a public comment period, when finished the rules should be published in the telephone book.  The zones are at this points to the west are for the commercial vessels and the recreational vessels are to the East side of Hotel Buoy.  The zone extends for 7 miles off shore and the CG will patrol a 300’ curve.  There was discussion on the depth that is considered safe whether at the 300’ of as NOAA suggests at 100 fathoms.  Ed Lott brought up the issue about the Keehi lagoon boaters and how some of them pulled out and could not come back in. 

The CG realizes the problems on communication and they will be on the radio and more prepared. 

It was suggested that there also needs to be some publication to let boaters know where they should park when they are getting their vessels underway.  This was a problem and needs to be addressed in the “Plan”.

4.      Other HOST Business

Carl Devoe handed out a flyer for the Merchant Mariner of the Year Luncheon on May 22nd.  The Dave Lyman Award is sponsored by the Hawaii Pilots and is one of the awards given that day. For more information, check the website: