- Since 2013, crews in Alaska have cleaned up hundreds of heavy-duty bags filled with marine debris, much of which has likely washed up from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Beaches continue to be polluted daily with the trash, which consists mainly of buoys, fishing lines, and various plastics.
- The cleanup organization Gulf of Alaska Keeper is operating the cleanup project, which is projected to cost $1.3 million. The state of Alaska will contribute $900,000, which it received from Japan for tsunami relief efforts in the U.S. The rest of the money will be contributed by Gulf of Alaska Keeper and British Columbia officials.
- Although much of the Alaska coastline isn't frequented by residents and tourists, it is still important to clean the debris due to environmental hazards for birds and marine life.
The trash problem along the 2,500 miles of Alaskan coastline has been an issue for many years, with a 2012 aerial survey determining that it is much worse than anticipated. However, not all of the waste can be blamed on the 2011 tsunami that occurred in Japan.
"Even without the tsunami, Alaska is well-known for being polluted with all these buoys and other stuff from fisheries activity and from other human activities," said Nikolai Maximenko, a senior researcher at the Hawaii-based International Pacific Research Center. Maximenko also noted that the cleanup efforts are both expensive and dangerous.