Anniversary of Japanese earthquake

On Monday, March 11, the government of B.C. will mark the solemn two-year anniversary of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which claimed approximately 16,000 lives and damaged more than 100,000 buildings.

"This was a truly tragic event, and as we approach the two-year anniversary we are honouring the memory of those who lost their lives," said Environment Minister Terry Lake.

"A disaster like this can leave a long-lasting impact and the people of Japan have shown amazing resiliency and spirit in rebuilding their communities."

Community spirit is a trait the people of Japan share with British Columbians and it is this spirit that is driving efforts to deal with the aftermath of the tsunami and related debris washing up along B.C.'s coast.

Among some of the activities taking place in honour of the two-year anniversary include a volunteer cleanup at French Beach Provincial Park in Sooke from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today organized by the Surfrider Foundation's Vancouver Island chapter.

Another event to commemorate the anniversary took place yesterday at Pacific Rim National Park where the Japan Love Project, a group made up mostly of international students from Vancouver, helped sort different types of marine debris and remove it from the beach. This group also will take part in a ceremony with community officials in Ucluelet later today.

"We are lucky to have such a strong engaged volunteer effort in B.C. and recognize the time and effort both individuals and groups, like the Surfrider Foundation, put into keeping our beaches clean and safe for everyone to enjoy," said Lake.

While certain areas along the coast are seeing an incremental increase in marine debris, to-date only a minimal amount is confirmed to have been a result of the tsunami.

The joint federal-provincial Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee continues to monitor the situation and has a scalable plan in place to deal with monitoring and surveillance of debris,collection and disposal of debris, and volunteer engagement.

If someone finds property of value or a personal item that appears to be tsunami-related debris from Japan they should contact the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) using the email address designated specifically for collecting data on tsunami debris sightings or finds.

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