LONG BEACH, Wash. – A 20-foot fishing boat with Japanese writing on it washed ashore on a beach in Cape Disappointment State Park on Friday.
Jim Sachet with the Washington Department of Ecology said people found the fiberglass boat on Benson Beach, which is on the ocean side of the park just north of Cape Disappointment.
While Sachet can’t confirm the boat was sent out to sea by the Japan tsunami, he said there is Japanese writing on it and on several life jackets that likely came loose as the boat crashed through the surf.
“It looks like the boat must have rolled as it came through the surf onto the beach,” Sachet said. “It broke off the little cabin that was on it.”
Department of Ecology experts also found some barnacles on the boat that are not native to the Pacific Northwest.
Those barnacles have environmental experts worried about possible invasive species. They hope to clean up the boat as soon as possible, perhaps as early as Friday night.
"Rangers asked us to guard it and keep people off of it," said Judie Erickson, a volunteer at a nearby lighthouse. "They don't want people touching it or on it or taking stuff off of it."
Sachet said there doesn’t appear to be any fuel or oil leaking from the boat.
Officials from NOAA say it will likely be next week before they can positively determine where the debris came from. They are working with the Japanese consulate in Seattle to help in that effort.
After the debris was discovered, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, sent out a statement, saying the federal government needs to come up with a plan to deal with the potential problem of more debris washing ashore in the state.
"Federal agencies need to ensure that communities like Ilwaco get the tools they need to prepare for and clean up tsunami debris and potential disruptions from invasive species," she said. "The debris from the tragic tsunami in Japan is a national problem. West Coast states and communities cannot and should not carry the burden and cost of dealing with tsunami debris on our own."
"Ironically, it fell on a short piece of state beach," said Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson. "State parks will be responsible for clean up but this will be something we'll have to deal with in the future. So we're working together to figure out how to deal with it."
Last week a large dock washed ashore in Newport after last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan sent it on its voyage across the Pacific. Smaller debris with Japanese writing consisting of soup wrappers, light bulbs and eye drop bottles have also recently been washing ashore in Oregon.
Federal, state and local leaders met in Cannon Beach Friday to figure out what to do as more debris washes ashore.