NOAA Publishes Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Marine Debris Emergency Response Guide
JUNE 20, 2023 — NOAA’s Marine Debris Program is pleased to release the “Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Marine Debris Emergency Response Guide” (Guide). This Guide is the first published for the Pacific Region and aims to improve preparedness for responding to marine debris after typhoons and other disasters in the Commonwealth. A recent example is Typhoon Mawar, which impacted the Commonwealth in late May and had the most significant impacts on the island of Rota.
During disasters, large amounts of debris enter nearshore coastal waterways all at once. Disaster-related debris can include abandoned and derelict vessels, construction and demolition debris, and household hazardous waste, among other types of debris. It can be a hazard to navigation, damage habitat, and pose pollution threats.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands experiences a high amount of typhoons and is located in an area of the Pacific Ocean often called “Typhoon Alley.” The Guide outlines existing response structures at all levels of government to facilitate a coordinated and timely response. It identifies organization roles and responsibilities and includes an overview of permitting and compliance requirements that must be met before marine debris removal work begins. Its development is a product of a collaborative process with local organizations and an unprecedented level of community participation. Sixty stakeholders participated in a virtual workshop as part of the document’s development, and over thirty individuals participated in a hands-on exercise in Saipan to become familiar with the resource and its tools.
The Guide serves as a complete reference for marine debris response in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The accompanying Field Reference Guide includes the most pertinent information for quick reference in the field and during emergency response operations. Development of the Guide was a high priority for the community. We are proud to have worked with local stakeholders to create this important tool and hope for a speedy recovery for the region after Typhoon Mawar.