The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) 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, such as Typhoon Mawar, which impacted the Commonwealth in late May with the most significant impacts on the island of Rota.
Marine debris ends up in the ocean every day as a result of littering and poor waste management. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands experiences a high number of typhoons, and is located in an area of the Pacific Ocean often called “Typhoon Alley.” During disasters, large amounts of debris enter 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 danger to boat traffic, damage habitat, and even release pollution.
To prepare for these impacts, the NOAA Marine Debris Program works with coastal states and territories to develop response guidance documents. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Marine Debris Emergency Response Guide describes how all levels of government and other organizations work together after disasters to respond to marine debris. The Guide 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.
This 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. 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.
Check out this Guide as well as Guides from other regions on our website.