ACT Goals:  With a focus on the marine debris and invasive species issues arising from the Japanese tsunami, the principal role of this action coordination team (ACT) is to serve as a source of up-to-date information on these issues, to promote communication among involved parties at OSU, and to provide information on background and sources to keep abreast of new developments to others at OSU.  This ACT also identifies the leads at OSU for different components for science and research, education, and engagement at OSU and how those relate to the role of agencies and others at state, local and federal agencies.

The Marine Council's Japanese Tsunami and Marine Debris (JTMD) and invasive species initiatives are included below, or you can download a pdf version of the JTMD Integrated Plan.


Team Lead and Point of Contact: Stephen Brandt, Director, Oregon Sea Grant (541 737-3396;


1. Introduction

Background:  The devastating 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011 claimed nearly 16,000 lives, injured 6,000, destroyed or damaged infrastructure and caused between $195 -$310 billion in damages (2011 Congressional Research Office). It also released a pulse of debris estimated to be over 5 million tons, of which approximately 30% (~1.5 million tons) is likely to still be afloat. As of June 2012, the floating debris, the vanguard of the main debris field (expected to begin arriving with the Fall 2012 storms) has begun to come ashore on the west coast of North America, with a large floating dock appearing on Agate beach in Newport on June 5. The dock and its “fouling” community garnered extensive media coverage, and turned international attention to Oregon as a site of tsunami debris research and management.

According to OSU’s Jessica Miller, she and other scientists from the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center including John Chapman and Gayle Hansen inspected and sampled the dock. They were surprised by the diversity and magnitude of marine life present on all sides of the structure. Although there were species commonly observed on oceanic floating debris, such as pelagic barnacles (Lepas sp.), there appeared to be an intact subtidal community of Asian species present on the majority of the structure. Analyses are ongoing.

Marine Debris: The vast majority of marine debris generated by the tsunami is expected to be terrestrial in origin, although marine-related debris, i.e. from harbors and other marine installations, may be more significantly represented in the debris field due to inherent flotation and windage. OSU faculty researcher Jack Barth is the lead on oceanography work within OSU on the trajectory relative to ocean currents, and other research questions related to the debris field.  Jamie Doyle from Oregon Sea Grant is participating in the state planning process, working to engage the fishing industry, and working with NGO partners (CoastWatch, SOLVE, Surfrider Foundation, and Washed Ashore) on public education on tsunami debris and volunteer engagement in debris monitoring and removal. Radiation is generally not considered to be an issue with the debris because of the timing of the exodus of debris from Japan relative to the later radiation releases; Kathryn Higley has the lead on related questions at OSU.  Questions from the public regarding the potential for radiation exposure , navigation hazard or ecosystem effects of marine debris will be redirected to NOAA. See contacts below.

Invasive Species Issues: After sampling of the floating dock’s marine life by OSU scientists, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel scraped and torched the structure to clear it of potentially invasive species. It was noted that marine life attached to the bottom of the dock could not be observed, removed or destroyed; most organisms had likely been scraped off and released into the surf as the dock came ashore. Identification of organisms collected is ongoing, but several potentially invasive species have already been identified including the European blue mussel, Mytilus galloprovincialis (an invader of Japan itself), the Asian brown seaweed Undaria pinnatifida, the Asian shore crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus and the Pacific Northern seastar Asterias amurensis (which was found only inside the dock within the hold that had taken on water through a crack in the concrete).

Recent Activities:

  • Ongoing research and identification of organisms from floating dock by faculty researchers;
  • Coordination and clarification of organizational roles;
  • Protocol development for dealing with debris and non-native species management at HMSC;
  • Education and outreach to the public attempting to deliver marine debris to the HMSC Visitor Center;
  • Interaction with media, including OSU press releases (see below); numerous interviews with national and international media;
  • Outreach through local news media on coordination between agencies and contacts for the public.
  • Engagement at the national and regional level to facilitate regional preparedness and response to invasive species biofouling transported via the Japanese tsunami marine debris.  


2. Organizational Coordination and OSU Linkages

As of June 27, 2012, the following organizations have clarified their responsibilities, roles and jurisdictions.

A. Oregon State University

OSU has the expertise, infrastructure and location to significantly contribute to the scientific and research activities associated with potentially invasive species transported by tsunami debris that is estuarine, intertidal or nearshore in origin. 

Biological and Ecological Research, including invasive species research:OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center research faculty from the Fisheries and Wildlife and Botany and Plant Pathology departments in the College of Agricultural Sciences, have taken the lead on identification of species found on the floating dock.  They have initiated several research projects and proposals that will provide insight into the process of biological invasions and guide managers in their efforts to monitor for potential invaders. Jessica Miller is the lead.

Oceanography: Existing research and knowledge at CEOAS provides an important resource for understanding oceanographic aspects such as trajectories, arrival rates, etc. Jack Barth is the lead.

Education: Oregon Sea Grant is participating with several other university faculty to submit a Oregon Sea Grant Program Development proposal. This funding would be used to: 1) To gather information from marine-debris experts and determine the risks and other critical concerns that these topical experts believe the coastal public should be informed about; 2) To elicit and assess the knowledge and concerns (attitudes, beliefs, values, and actions) of defined audience(s); and refine, as needed, the set of critical facts necessary for informed decision-making in light of this assessment; 3) To draft (prototype) and test communications that support audience knowledge and decision-making; and produce materials that further this ability; 4) To  evaluate this project’s communication process and revise products (once) as needed. Bill Hanshumaker is the lead.

Engagement on Invasive Species: In collaboration with national and regional experts, including experts cited in the OSU ACT, a workshop is being convened with marine debris and invasive species experts, managers, educators and communicators to facilitate development of a coherent framework for response, risk assessments, management, outreach and engagement, policy, and research relative to introduction of invasive species by tsunami debris.  The framework will lead to a risk analysis and response plan with consistent science-based protocols and guidelines in preparing and responding to invasive species found on biofouled structures carried into the currents of the Pacific after the tsunami.  Where appropriate, serve as a liason connecting the research, education and communications groups within the ACT and with external partners. Work with experts regional stakeholders in assessing their needs and connecting these needs to research, education and, communications.  Sam Chan is the lead.

Marine Debris/State-wide planning/Volunteer engagement: Jamie has been participating in the state planning process, working on public education (planning the 11 community meetings in April), engaging volunteers in monitoring (to establish a baseline of debris in Oregon as well as monitor trends related to JTMD), and participating in the West Coast Governors Alliance Marine Debris ACT. Jamie Doyle is the lead. 

Internal and External Communications: Facilitate internal communications, through this ACT. University Advancement, Sea Grant and Extension Communications will provide guidance in planning communications into OSU’s work.   Work with ACT on risk communications strategies (e.g. press releases) and their implications.  Develop and facilitate the use of different forms of media. Lead is Mark Floyd.


B. State Activities and roles:

Oregon Emergency Management (OEM) coordinates the state planning process, which began formally on May 29th, 2012.  The interim director of OEM serves as the chair of a Marine Debris Task Force.  The state’s planning process includes participation from state agencies, county emergency managers, Oregon Sea Grant, and NGOs.  The lead agencies were identified as Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  The state is in the process of responding to the dock at Agate Beach, developing a state-wide plan, and preparing public informational documents.  The next state planning meeting will be July 31, and will focus on two-pieces: policy/planning and communications. Both DEQ and OPRD have two contacts, one for planning and one for communications (listed below). The state is planning to work closely with those organizations working with volunteers, and build upon existing capacity and infrastructure for removal and monitoring efforts (Surfrider Foundation, SOLVE, CoastWatch, and Washed Ashore).  

State reporting e-mail:

Pocket-guide for beachcombers:

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD): OPRD is the joint lead (with DEQ) for state planning processes.  Given ORPD’s jurisdictional responsibility for all state beaches, they are on the front line for dealing with debris. 

Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ): DEQ’s is responsible for handling solid waste; they will be working on guidelines for and the actual disposal of debris.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW): Invasive Species Management: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Resources Programbased at HMSC has taken the lead on management of invasive species as they come ashore, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plays a similar role in Washington. Web page and fact sheet: 


C. Federal Activities and Roles:

NOAA: NOAA has been coordinating regional efforts across the Pacific (HI, AK, BC, WA, OR, CA) and supporting modeling, detection, reporting potential debris, education, etc.  NOAA is working to support state processes, providing education, planning support, modeling, etc.  NOAA reporting e-mail:

Coast Guard: USCG is supporting NOAA and reminding everyone about reporting to the National Response Center.


3. Contact information: ACT Member information below provides information on roles and lead for selected topics.  Team members can provide information on others conducting research or other activities in their area at OSU.


ACT Members

Stephen Brandt, Team Lead, Professor and Director, Oregon Sea Grant (541 737-3396; Role: Overview of OSU activities and coordination.

Kim Anderson, Professor, Environmental and Molecular Toxicology (541 737 8501;  Role: Contact for toxics, environmental pollutants associated with marine debris.

Jack Barth, Professor, COAS  (541 737 1607; cell 541 231-1703; ).  Role:  Lead in Science Coordination, Issues related to oceanography, JTMD trajectories.

George Boehlert,Director, HMSC, (541 867 0211; cell 541 961 3436; Role: Coordination with HMSC.

Maryann Bozza, HMSC Program Manager (541 867 0234; cell 541 219 2612;  Role: Communications on Oregon Coast/Newport.

Sam Chan, Aquatic invasive species and watershed health specialist, Sea Grant Extension and member of the Oregon Invasive Species Council  (541 679 4828; samuel Role: Lead in engagement on invasive species.

Jamie Doyle, Sea Grant Extension (541 572 5263, cell 541-297-4227 Role: Marine debris issues, coastal monitoring, state planning process.

Mark Floyd, News and Research Communications, (541 737 0788; cell 541 231 4567;  Role: Lead, Press contacts and releases, coordination of press with agencies.

Lisa Gaines, Interim Director, Institute for Natural Resource (541-737-1976, Role: Contact for Governor’s Natural Resource Cabinet meetings.

Bill Hanshumaker, Oregon Sea Grant Senior Scientist, HMSC (541 867 0167; cell 541 961 3098; Role: Lead in public education aspects.

Kathy Higley, Department Head for Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics, 541 737 2343, Role: Contact for radiation questions.

Jessica Miller, Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, HMSC (541 867 0381; cell 503 939 9812; ).   Role:  Lead in Science Coordination, Ecological and biological aspects of JTMD.

Jock Mills, Director, Government Relations.  ((541) 737-0725, cell (541) 740-6722; ).  Role:  Lead, State Government and Agency relations, and Governor’s Office.

Kate Sinner, OSU Federal Relations Director (503-553-3445; cell 503 891 3332; Role: Lead, Federal Government Liaison, coordination with delegation.

David Trejo, Acting School Head for School of Civil/Construction Engineering (541 737 9304, cell 541-224-3822, Role: Contact for coastal engineering and construction management or logistics questions.


Pertinent Contacts outside OSU

State of Oregon

ODFW, Caren Braby, Marine Resources Program in Newport (541 867 0300 x226, cell 541 961-5352

ODFW, Steve Rumrill, Marine Resources Program in Newport (541 867 0300 x245, cell 541 961 7634,

ODFW, Rick Boatner, Terrestrial Invasive Species and Wildlife Integrity Coordinator (503 947 6308, Rick.J.Boatner@

Oregon Invasive Species Council (OISC) Contact: Lisa DeBruckyere, Coordinator (503) 704-2884,

ODEQ (POC): Micheal Zolitsch, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Emergency Response Director (503 229-6931, ). Cleanup/ Emergency Response.

ODEQ Public Information Officer (PIO):

OPRD (POC): David Soloman, Oregon Parks and Recreation Safety and Risk Manager (503 986 0652,


OEM POC: John Lewis –

OEM PIO:  Jenni Chamberlain -

Governor’s Office, Todd Hallenbeck, ( (503) 373-0050 ext. 242 (also West Coast Governor’s Alliance responsibilities)



NOAA Contacts:

Nir Barnea, NOAA Marine Debris Program West Coast Coordinator ( 206-526-6943)

Peg Brady, NOAA Fisheries Strategic Planning Lead & Liaison to the National  Invasive Species Council & Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, (301) 427-8655,



Jim Carlton, Professor of Marine Sciences, Williams College, (860) 572-5359,


Pertinent Web Resources 

Regional Joint Information Center:

This is intended to be a clearing house of information where states/organizations can share information, communications, etc.  PASSWORD:  sharedtools  (you can share this as needed with select stakeholders you believe would benefit from our communicator tools) 

ODFW Website for Statewide Action and Coordination:

NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Japan Tsunami Debris site,

Oregon Invasive Species Council,

Oregon Invasive Species hotline website, or 1-866-INVADER: for the public to report marine debris that has living organisms attached (photo along with date found, location requested).

Oregon State email address, For the public to report other Japan tsunami marine debris

HMSC Website for reporting new data and species identifications from the Agate beach floating dock:

Oregon Marine Debris Team (Sea Grant, SOLVE, Surfrider Foundation, CoastWatch, Washed Ashore) newsletter/listserver The intent of this newsletter is to provide volunteer opportunities and updated information for beach-combing audiences.  


OSU Press Releases: