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Volunteers Sought For West Coast Tsunami Debris Cleanup

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TSUNAMI DEBRIS
Ocean debris believed to be from Japan is posed for a photograph on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. Wednesday, April, 18, 2012. The debris which has been collected by various locals say that they have seen more debris coming ashore lately with what looks to be Japanese writing on it and could be related to the Japanese tsunami. Experts in ocean currents say that a large debris field of various materials is out to sea and could be coming towards North America and could hit the shores of British Columb | CP


The wave of debris from the Japanese tsunami that is starting to wash up on the West Coast has prompted a call for volunteers to clean up the trash.

The Vancouver Aquarium and the World Wildlife Fund are teaming up to recruit volunteers to pick up everything from bottles, to plastics, fishing paraphernalia to appliances, that is expected to wash up on North America's coastline.

In recent months, some of the first debris that drifted across the Pacific has triggered international interest, including a container with a Harley Davidson motorcycle, some volleyballs that have been traced back to their owners, and even an unmanned fishing vessel that was sunk by the U.S. Coast Guard.

But residents in Alaska and Haida Gwaii, which used to be known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, have reported that more and more uninteresting trash has also been washing up.

Making a list to be ready

The aquarium's Jill Dwyer is in charge of a registry of volunteers needed to collect the junk, and she said people can sign up for the cleanup registry at www.shorelinecleanup.ca.

"We don't really know when the majority of the debris is going to start hitting our shorelines, where it's going to hit or how much," Dwyer said Friday.

"What we're doing is just getting a list of volunteers who would be willing to help when needed and then we'll connect them with the site co-ordinator or the local people on the ground who would actually be organizing the cleanup."

Dwyer said ocean debris could be harmful to wildlife if it contains chemicals or if animals ingest items or become entangled in them.

According to some estimates, the March 2011 tsunami washed between 1.5 and 18 million tonnes of debris into the Pacific Ocean.

The recruitment effort is separate from the annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, which has been happening across Canada every September for the last 19 years. A spring cleanup of shorelines involving students began in B.C. last year and has now started in Ontario.