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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

October 13, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Razor clam diggers are asked to be watchful of tsunami debris when hitting the beaches

As the ocean churns up its surf during fall and winter storms, coastal razor clam diggers heading to beaches are asked to keep an eye out for tsunami debris.

The Washington State Marine Debris Task Force says many Pacific Northwest coastal beaches have been seeing a rise this past summer in marine debris, which likely came from the March 2011 Japan tsunami.

Tsunami debris is expected to hit the shores intermittently over the course of the next several years, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predictions.

The Task Force – a group of state agencies led by the state Military Department’s Emergency Management Division – has established a marine debris information listserv for Washington residents and coastal visitors. To join, go to the state Department of Ecology website and choose “marine/tsunami debris.”

The public can also call the toll-free line at 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278).

Report oil and hazardous items to the National Response Center and Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) by pressing “1.”

Report large floating debris items that might pose a boating or navigation hazard by pressing “2.”

Or get instructions for reporting debris that is not large or hazardous.

Hazardous materials to watch out for include spilled oil, drums and barrels, fuel tanks and gas cylinders, chemical totes and other containers with unknown fluids. Do not touch or attempt to move such items.

General marine debris, such as plastic bottles, Styrofoam and floats or buoys, is not considered hazardous. People are encouraged to remove and dispose of small nonhazardous debris items.

NOAA encourages beachgoers and boaters, if possible, to take photos of marine debris suspected to be from the Japanese tsunami, to note the location, and to email the information to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.

If an item appears to have sentimental value to those who owned it, NOAA requests people move the item to a safe place before emailing information.

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