Tsunami 'Ghost Ship' washed 5000 miles across Pacific Ocean, and experts fear it could be the first of many
A fishing trawler lost in the Japanese tsunami last year has been spotted drifting 5000 miles away near the coast of British Colombia.
Jeff Olsson of Victoria’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre says a routine coastal air patrol spotted the vessel on Tuesday 20 March about 140 nautical miles west of the southern tip of Haida Gwaii in western Canada.
The plane attempted to make contact with any crew on board but received no replies.
“We know nobody’s in danger,” said Olsson.
Japanese officials have confirmed that the 50ft squid-fishing boat is originally from the island prefecture Hokkaido, and is one of the many vessels lost in the tsunami caused by the devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake that killed 19,000 people in March 2011.
The Canadian Coast Guard has warned all vessels in the area that the ‘Ghost Ship’ is a navigational hazard but it is not currently thought to be leaking fuel. The trawler is expected to make landfall unaided in 50 days.
It is the largest remnant of the estimated 25 million tonnes of debris swept into the ocean to have crossed the Pacific, believed to have been pushed along by the strong Kuroshio current, the Japanese equivalent of the Gulf Stream.
But environmentalists fear that this is the beginning of a deluge of litter onto the coastline between Canada and California, the majority of which will not appear for another 12 months.
Maria Cantwell, US senator for Washington state, said that the tsunami debris could have far-reaching economic consequences if left unchecked.
“Hundreds of thousands of jobs in Washington state depend on our healthy marine ecosystems.
“We can’t afford to wait until more tsunami debris washes ashore to understand its potential impact on Washington state’s 10.8 billion dollar coastal economy.”
“Now, we’ve learned that larger debris could reach our coastlines sooner than expected… we need more data and better science to track and respond to tsunami debris.”
See MBM’s gallery of boats caught up in Japan earthquake