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Survey of island debris with removal is the plan says DMWR

The Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources is on the hunt for rubbish— yours, mine and ours. DMWR is surveying the island to locate areas where large dumps of debris, such as appliances, metal roofing, tires, or any other man made or natural materials are piled up, in order to document and then remove the debris.

This debris may not only hurt or damage our coasts and the waters around us, but it can damage our reefs as well, and a plan for removing the debris, including leftover tsunami debris is being formulated.

Yesterday morning the director of the DMWR Ray Tulafono along with DMWR Marine and Debris Project Coordinator, Alice Lawrence held a meeting with the DMWR workers and DMWR divers, to explain their plan of action for the removal of debris, along with the survey being conducted at this time.

Also on hand for this meeting was the head of the American Samoa Aquatics Agency (ASAA) Zero Iaulualo, who requested that DMWR put Utulei Beach on their list of places scheduled for debris removal.

Discussion included the twin goals of getting the villages involved to help with removal of smaller debris from places such as stream mouths and beaches, along with educating the public on the benefits of recycling and the dangers of illegal dumping.

“We have a grant from NOAA to remove the debris from the 2009 tsunami and the idea is to go back and make sure that we have removed all of the tsunami debris,” said Lawrence. “There was a NOAA team that came down in December 2009 and they removed about four tons of debris with most of it being metal roofing, tires and lots of household appliances. There is still debris out there. We are going to go back at this time and assess these sites and identify where the trash and the big debris remain.”

“We are also going to get a professional contractor to go down into the ocean and help remove the debris. Then as part of the grant as well, we will have the community education outreach aspect, which will go on for 12 months, to begin once we have completed the first phase, which should be this coming February or March. Our goal is to have village teams who will adopt their own areas — where every month they will do a clean up and calculate how much trash they have picked up and what kind. There will also be a competition with the media where each village will then submit their information, with prizes given away.”

“There will be outreach material given out as well, informing them how to recycle the trash they have picked up, with information about plastic bags, illegal dumping and waste from streams and a lot other useful and general information.”

“If you would like to get involved or for more information on this project, you can contact me at the Department of Marine Wildlife Resources at 633-4456,” she said.