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When a giant floating dock washed ashore on a central Oregon coast beach in early June 2012, dozens of federal, state and local entities were already working on ways to to inform and prepare Oregonians for the arrival of much more debris from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Of particular concern: Those first arrivals carried with them marine plant and animal species from Japan which could prove invasive in West Coast environments.
From the first report, Oregon Sea Grant has partnered with other organizations to inform coastal residents about the issue and to build coalitions to monitor, report and help safely remove debris as it arrives. Jamie Doyle, Sea Grant Extension faculty based on the south coast, took on program responsibility for tsunami debris activities, and others - invasive species specialist Sam Chan, coastal hazards specialist Pat Corcoran, education specialist Bill Hanshumaker and other scientists at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport - added their expertise.
With NOAA coordinating debris observation and monitoring along the entire Pacific Coast, Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality and Parks and Recreation Department - which has responsibility for the state's 363 miles of coastline - is leading cleanup and response efforts in Oregon. Sea Grant, meanwhile, continues to lend its scientific, educational and public engagement expertise to the effort, and has joined with organizations such as Surfrider, SOLVE and CoastWatch to form the Oregon Marine Debris Team to assist with monitoring, identification, cleanup and public information.