Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Kurt Schrader chaired a roundtable discussion in Newport today. Stakeholders from up and down the coast brought their concerns about the arrival of tsunami debris.
The huge Japanese dock that ran aground in Newport last month (June) didn't hit any ships on its way to shore. But will Oregon boats always be so lucky? Smaller commercial fishermen, river tugs and barges face serious risks if their boats run into something the size of the dock. Mark Schneider fishes for tuna and salmon out of Winchester Bay.
"We've seen debris ourselves," Schneider says. "What we're seeing now is smaller stuff, like styrofoam and fish balls. The other day we saw a refrigerator."
Even that might be big enough to cause problems in rough water.
Fishermen and some local agencies kicked around ideas for how authorities like the Coast Guard or NOAA fisheries might use websites, beacons or radio warnings to let recreational boaters and commercial fleets know about potential floating hazards.
Schrader and Wyden said they felt some sort of central clearinghouse for information might make sense. They promised to follow up in meetings later this month.