01/09/2012 08:27 EST | Updated 03/10/2012 05:12 EST

B.C. names co-chair of new tsunami debris group, await federal announcement

VANCOUVER - The B.C. government has taken the first step in planning for a massive wave of debris heading to the province's shores after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Julianne McCaffrey of Emergency Management B.C. says the province named today a co-chair to the new Provincial Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee.

She says Jim Standen, who is the assistant deputy minister at the Ministry of Environment, will help government agencies understand their roles and responsibilities when it comes to planning for the debris.

She says the issue is complex because federal, provincial and municipal governments are responsible for different jurisdictions.

While researchers at the University of Hawaii predict the debris field is still in the middle of the Pacific, residents on Vancouver Island say they have already begun to see plastic water bottles and lumber with Japanese markings wash ashore.

McCaffrey says the federal government must still name a committee co-chair.