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Plan unclear for boat from Japan adrift off Haida Gwaii

Mar 27 2012

If government agencies have a plan for what they're going to do with a Japanese fishing vessel that was spotted last week off Haida Gwaii, they're not making it public - yet.

The vessel was swept out to sea from Hokkaido, Japan, by the tsunami that followed the a magnitude 9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2010.

No one is believed to be on board. The Japanese owners have been notified of the vessel's whereabouts.

Calls to the Department of National Defence Monday for updates were referred to Transport Canada in Vancouver, where spokeswoman Sau Sau Liu said, "It's drifting slowly so we still have some time to work on something."

She refused to say at what point the ship will be towed to shore or what its fate would be after.

Transport Canada is monitoring the vessel for pollution and so far none has been spotted, Liu said.

The vessel was 150 nautical miles out to sea on March 20. On Monday, there were no updates on its location.

"As it gets closer to shore, it could possibly become an impediment to navigation," Masset Mayor Andrew Merilees said Monday.

"Certainly, the tsunami has a lot of interest locally. We've been beachcombing here, and items from Japan have been coming ashore for hundreds of years."

Tofino Mayor Perry Schmunk said the arrival of the ship "is further proof that [debris] is clearly on its way. It doesn't have me worried, but it has me concerned."

He hopes the vessel is treated with respect and returned to Japan if that's what the owners wish.

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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