State and federal officials say Hawaii fishermen found a 16-foot Japanese skiff swept out to sea by last year's tsunami and brought it to Honolulu.
On Friday, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said the crew of the fishing boat Zephyr found the small boat intact and floating about 700 miles northeast of Maui.
The Japanese consulate in Honolulu says the boat is registered in Iwate, a northeastern prefecture hit by the tsunami. The owner doesn't want it back.
Joshua Marvit of the state Department of Health tests a 16-foot skiff for radiation after the vessel was salvaged by the crew of the F/V Zephyr approximately 700 miles northeast of Maui on Friday. The skiff was confirmed to have been debris from the March 11, 2011, Japan tsunami by the Japanese Consulate. Consulate officials contacted the owner through the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and confirmed that they did not seek its return.
U.S. Coast Guard photo via AP
The boat is the second confirmed piece of tsunami debris to arrive in Hawaii. Last month, a large blue plastic bin from Fukushima was found floating in waters off eastern Oahu.
DLNR Chairman William Aila Jr. said that the state was grateful to the Japan Consulate for its help in finding the owner of the boat.
"This is believed to be the second confirmed piece of Japan tsunami debris in Hawaii," he said.
Aila said DLNR invasive species personnel inspected the skiff and determined "it was completely clean of any marine organisms."
"When discovered, the skiff was covered with gooseneck barnacles with some crabs mixed in, very similar to the composition found on the Suisan blue bin," he said.
Aila said that the boat also was checked for radiation, which showed normal background levels, similar to other debris objects recovered so far.
The Hawaii interagency Japan tsunami marine debris group is working to share information about debris sightings, according to state officials.
"We appreciate that this fisherman reached out to us and our partners at the Coast Guard and DLNR to alert us of the skiff and determine appropriate measures to take," said Carey Morishige, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Debris Pacific Islands coordinator.
"Boaters are our eyes on the water, and we need their help to be on the lookout for marine debris," he said.
"We appreciate our residents' attention to marine debris, which is an everyday problem in Hawaii. Our outdoor lifestyles mean that there are many of us who will find and can report items, especially those which may be covered with marine organisms or writing. We encourage the public to continue to help pick up and remove marine debris and litter from our beaches, when safe to do so," Aila said.