May 29th 2009
Pensioner pays to promote World Oceans Day
Barbara Gibbs lives on a disability pension after a horrific car accident in 2003. But, for the last three months, she’s spent every waking moment creating a mini-festival to celebrate Australia’s first World Oceans Day on Magnetic Island.
The 2009 World Ocean's Day is the first United Nation’s sanctioned world-wide celebration of our oceans. On Monday 8th June, over 50 countries around the world will be focussed on the oceans of the world and, according to Barbara, Magnetic Island will be the first community in Australia to celebrate it with them.
“We have the main festivities planned in the morning on the Picnic Bay foreshore. There will be eco-friendly market stalls, speakers and prizes from 9am till noon. This will be followed by visitors taking buses to other venues on the island for the rest of the afternoon and early evening. There will be everything from sand garden competitions at Alma Bay, marine and diving films, coral displays and aquarium visits, seafood specials in participating restaurants, to arts at Horseshoe Bay. Lots of businesses and people are taking part!” said Barbara.
“As our island is very dependent on maintaining a healthy ocean, as are all living things, it is hoped as many people as possible will participate in the celebrations for the day”, she said said.
Barbara's motivation to organise the event was sparked when she saw an advert on her Ergon power bill. “Having a passion for all things marine and environmental, I saw an opportunity to educate both visitors and islanders of the many ways their every day decisions impact on the estuaries, reef and ocean. I had noticed several things on the island that indicated lessons needed to be learnt.”
But, given the focus of the event, Magnetic Times was curious that the event includes seafood menus at restaurants involved. We asked Barbara what efforts have been taken to ensure that these menus will be from sustainably fished species?
“I spoke to the restaurants involved and spoke to the chef to ascertain where their supplies came from, then researched these. I also took it upon myself to download Best and Worst Choices of sustainable seafoods (from the Australian Marine Conservation Society) and printed these out along with copies of Queensland Sustainable Fisheries web info and shall be supplying seafood eateries with these for the benefit of all. Basically, North Queensland Fisheries is now a leader in sustainable fisheries...many changes in the past 20 years for the better.”
As for the event itself. “There will be lots of prizes, kids activities and displays. The emphasis is One Ocean, One Climate, One Future. “Everything we do on Earth impacts on the ocean either from acid rain from energy production, or from run-off containing toxins and high nutrient levels. The ocean determines the weather so the warmer it gets, the worse our weather!” said Barbara.
“We’d like this to be the start of an ongoing festival each year to celebrate the wonders of the ocean that surrounds us. Being part of a world-wide celebration also makes it very special.
“We hope that everyone will come and, not only enjoy the festival itself, but also find out more about how the world’s oceans work and how we can reduce our impact on them.”
In 2003 Barbara suffered irreparable neck and many other injuries from a mining vehicle accident in remote W.A. As for work, “Now I am seen as either 'high risk', 'over-qualified', or 'too old',” said Barbara. Since then she has survived on a disability benefit. “Luckily I can live on Magnetic Island and enjoy the ocean view and beaches and ride on boats. This is sheer luxury! I have had to forgo cycling, hiking Hinchinbrook, kayaking and anything that requires strength and lifting...all the things I took for granted.”
But her disability has not quashed her passion for the marine environment and although the project came too late for funding rounds Barbara had set her mind to get World Oceans Day happening this year. “I was determined to not wait until another million tonnes of waste went into the ocean,” she said.
Barbara told Magnetic Times that before issuing a recent press release the project had already cost her around $500 for materials, travel, printing and more. “Both North Queensland Conservation Council and NQ Dry Tropics have managed to come up with some funding to tide me over and repay debts in the past week. This has not been a lot of money, but is a fortune when you don't have any. NQCC also auspiced Picnic Bay Coast Care (whom I represent) for insurance.”
“TCC approved a $500 grant, $170 of which goes back to them for the hire of the mall and bond. However, Sara Shaw has been working extremely hard at marketing this event, and has not been paid to do so. She deserves a great deal of praise for her efforts. Tony Hughes has also put in a big effort and harassed other businesses to come on board.”
For Barbara, the most important element of World Oceans Day on Magnetic Island is, “The educational messages I hope people actually take on board and act upon if they care about sustaining their lifestyle.”
There will be information available to read throughout the mall and on dvd shows in the courtyard.
World Oceans Day will begin at the Esplanade on Monday 8th June from 9am – 7pm and begins at The Esplanade, Picnic Bay.
To contact Barbara Gibbs directly email email@example.com
or call 0429 887 448.
For further information on the world-wide UN Ocean Project
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