7 May 2012

Tsunami debris to end up in North Pacific Gyre

5:17 am on 7 May 2012

A scientist from the International Pacific Research Center in Hawaii says debris from Japan's tsunami last year will end up adding tonnes of waste to the North Pacific Garbage Patch.

Jan Hafner says the final destination of tsunami debris that is not washed ashore in Hawaii or North America will be the North Pacific gyre or garbage patch.

He says all ocean debris is harmful to the marine environment as plastic enters the food chain.

But he says people must remember there is also a human aspect to the floating tsunami material.

"This is not regular debris or regular garbage that would be discarded like ordinarily the case. This was a tragedy of unprecedented scale and each piece should be viewed as a momento of the tragedy which struck Japan last year."

Jan Hafner says more material will be washed up over the next five years and it would be a good idea to set up a system to trace tsunami debris so personal items can be returned, or added to a memorial.