Turn the Tide on Plastics in the Ocean

May 28, 2017 | Posted in: Conservation, Events, Pollution, Submissions to Government

On Sunday 28th May, my wife and I attended a gathering at the Largs Bay jetty kiosk. Artist Andrew Baines was conducting one of his famous photo shoots on the beach by the jetty. The photo shoot was being linked to World Ocean’s Day. It was held in collaboration with United Nations Associated of Australia (SA) & the City of Port Adelaide Enfield. Everybody who wanted to take part in the photo shoot had to dress in black and wear a top hat.

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Participants gathering at the Largs Bay jetty kiosk

According to a Facebook post at https://www.facebook.com/CityOfPAE/photos/a.182419215489194.1073741828.104119179985865/370646783333102/?type=3&theater: – “The Lord Mayor and senior UN Officials joined our Mayor (for the City of Port Adelaide Enfield) and artist Andrew Baines on the Largs beach today to raise awareness against plastics poisoning our oceans.

Noeleen and I mainly went out of interest. It was a cold, wet and windy morning. We all moved across the Esplanade for some shelter at the Largs Pier Hotel. We heard a few dignitaries speak about the event. Port Adelaide Enfield Mayor Gary Johanson spoke first. He was followed by Lord Mayor Martin Haese. The next speaker was Mr. Christopher Woodthorpe, Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Canberra. (UNIC Canberra covers, Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. In this role, Mr. Woodthorpe acts as the representative of the Secretary-General and coordinates the Organization’s communications outreach in the region.)

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Participants gathering at the Largs Pier Hotel

When Mayor Johanson wrapped up the presentations, I asked Mr Woodthorpe for the copy of his speech. Details are presented further below. Everyone then made their way down onto the beach in the cold, blustery conditions. Andrew Baines, and several others, took photos of the people as they trudged down on to the beach and eventually lined up along the water’s edge.

Many hats were blown off of people’s heads and everyone was kept on their toes. Many of the participants took their shoes off of their feet so that they wouldn’t get them wet at the edge of the sea during the photo shoot. Noeleen was luckily wearing mostly all black clothing and she was included in the line-up along the water’s edge. Although I myself also had mostly black clothing on, I was wearing a navy blue jacket and I was told that I couldn’t be in the line-up. I happily stepped aside but, on reflection, I should’ve just offered to remove my jacket. Perhaps though, it was lucky that I didn’t try that in the sub-Antarctic conditions.

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Participants gathering at the Largs Bay jetty

A Channel 7 film crew were there to film proceedings for the 6pm news. It took a good 15 minutes for all of the required photography and filming to be completed. There was then a rush back to the warmth of people’s cars and other warmer locations. An estimated 60 people were involved one way or another.

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The complete line-up at the water’s edge

Later that evening, I was able to post the following comments on a couple of relevant web pages: – “Thanks for the good turnout in terrible conditions today. Extra thanks for raising awareness about the marine environment and the threat of micro-plastics.”

In his speech prior to the photo shoot, Mr. Christopher Woodthorpe, Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Canberra addressed the dignitaries and participants and acknowledged the traditional custodians of this land. He then went on to say something like: – “Today’s event places Art at its core, channelling creative expression to highlight one of the world’s greatest global challenges. We are here to send a message that we must turn the tide on the state of our oceans. As we look out on these beautiful waters, the reality is that wer are looking out on an ocean that is in serious trouble – declining fish stocks, ocean acidification, unchecked pollution – and time is running out to act. Consider the impact of pollution from plastics – each year, more than 8m tons of plastics end up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism and costing billions of dollars damage. Moreover, if we don’t act now and we continue at the same rate of dumping, by 2050 oceans will be filled with more plastic than fish. These are only some of the huge challenges that our oceans are facing. Through our actions here today we are part of a global movement highlighting the urgency in acting now to save our oceans. It is a message we need the global community to hear. It is a call to all delegates at the United Nations Oceans Conference in New York next week to save our oceans, a commitment which is an integral part of the global sustainable development agenda. And it is also a call for individual action. So I congratulate the City of Port Adelaide Enfield, the UN Association and all of you here for playing your part and most of all to Andrew Baines for sharing his creative talent in order to foster social change.”

(All photos taken by Steve Reynolds)

Steve Reynolds is the current President of MLSSA and is a long-standing member of the Society. Steve is a keen diver, underwater explorer, photographer and is chief author of the Society’s extensive back catalogue of newsletters and journals.

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