Boat lost in Japan tsunami reaches Canada

Agence France-Presse
The fishing boat's owner does not want it back, a Japanese official says

TSUNAMI BOAT. This file photo taken on March 20 and provided by the Canadian Department of National Defence shows a Japanese fishing boat which reportedly was lost in the Pacific Ocean after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan. AFP Photo /Canadian Department of National Defence

VANCOUVER, Canada – A fishing boat lost in the massive Japanese tsunami a year ago has recently turned up off Canada’s west coast, authorities said.

Its owner does not want it back, a Japanese official said Tuesday, March 27.

An aerial inspection suggested that there was no one on board, Transport Canada spokeswoman Sau Sau Liu told AFP.

The 65-meter (210-foot) vessel was spotted last March 20 by a Canadian Forces aircraft on a routine surveillance patrol, and its Japanese owner has been notified, said Transport Canada.

A military photo shows the ship, streaked with rust but intact, floating 278 kilometers off the southern coast of Haida Gwaii islands, some 1,500 kilometers north of Vancouver.

“The vessel is considered an obstruction to navigation,” Transport Canada said in a statement, adding that it was being monitored for pollution.

Fishing firm’s property

A Japanese coastguard spokesman said the boat belonged to a fishing firm in Hakodate, Hokkaido, and had been anchored in Hachinohe, Aomori, when the tsunami struck.

“The owner told us it is not needed anymore,” said the spokesman.

The unidentified owner told Japanese media he had given up hope of seeing the boat.

“I had not dreamed that it would cross the Pacific,” the Yomiuri Shimbun quoted him as saying on Monday, March 26.

“I have already abandoned my proprietary right. I would like (the Japanese government) to help scrap it by talking to countries concerned.”

First, largest item

The ship is the first, and largest, item confirmed to have crossed the Pacific Ocean to North America from Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Near Midway Atoll in the deep Pacific, a Russian ship spotted an intact 20-foot Japanese boat from Fukushima last fall, along with debris such as a television and other household appliances, the University of Hawaii said.

Ocean researchers based in Hawaii are monitoring the debris from the tsunami, which they earlier predicted would reach western North America early next year.

There have been reports of Japanese bottles and other items washing ashore, but it’s not clear if they were from the tsunami.

Earlier this month, Canada’s western province of British Columbia and the western US states of Washington, Oregon and California signed an agreement to coordinate management of the tsunami debris when it reaches shore, and to return items of sentimental value to Japan.

The Japanese fishing boat that was found this week is not expected to reach landfall for another 50 days, said a media statement by Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, who has a special interest in marine issues. – Agence France-Presse


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