COAST CITIES — A new source of coastal litter — tsunami debris — may contribute to the California Coastal Commission 28th annual California Coastal Cleanup Day Sept. 15, being held at more than 850 locations statewide.Along with land-based sources of debris, California and the entire West Coast face a new threat washing into the Pacific following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March 11. The debris has started to show up on shorelines in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, and modeling indicates that some portion of the debris will land in California. So starting with this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day, volunteers at coastal locations will begin a new data collection regimen, searching for items that could indicate potential tsunami debris. The data will be used as a baseline against which future cleanup and data collection events will be measured.
Earlier this year, Senate Resolution 84, introduced by Sen. Christine Kehoe of San Diego, was passed by the state legislature. The resolution designated the week of Sept. 8 through Sept. 15 as California Coastal Protection Week, and establishes the second week of September as California Coastal Protection Week from here forward. Since California Coastal Cleanup Day always falls on the third Saturday of September, California Coastal Protection Week will culminate with the event.
“Over the coming months, the data will provide us clues as to when debris from the tsunami is starting to arrive in bulk, and where,” said Eben Schwartz, Marine Debris Program manager for the California Coastal Commission. “This data will help us target our year-round cleanup efforts, and help direct resources where they are most needed. In addition, with the added attention being brought to this issue by the tsunami debris, we anticipate more volunteer interest in helping us tackle our ongoing marine debris challenge.”
Volunteers who would like to participate in California Coastal Cleanup Day are encouraged to visit coastalcleanupday.org to find a local coordinator and sign up for a beach or river location. Other events are scheduled throughout the year through the Adopt-A-Beach Program, and residents can take the Commission’s Coastal Stewardship Pledge, which provides hundreds of different ways to help take care of our coast and ocean. Information about these programs can be found at coast4u.org.