Mark Gibbs, Committee Member
Mark Gibbs, Committee Member

Mark is a regular yacht racing campaigner on the east coast of Australia and has provided oceanographic and meteorological support for a number of international ocean racing campaigns over the last three decades. As a marine researcher at the Queensland University of Technology, Mark focuses mostly on providing advice on coastal climate adaptation issues and has recently helped to lead a major research initiative on restoring the Great Barrier Reef. Mark presently sits on a number of government marine and coastal technical advisory bodies. Mark also teaches sailing and maritime courses at sailing schools and maritime colleges in Brisbane, and is a master of several research and sail training sailing vessels. Mark holds a PhD in oceanography, is an AMSA Master 4, Australian Sailing Sea Safety and Survival Instructor, and an RYA Yachtmaster Instructor. In his spare time, Mark is also a captain for Sea Shepherd and has participated in a number of direct-action marine conservation campaigns, mostly in Latin America, and Mark has served on seven of Sea Shepherd’s 12 operational vessels.

Why The Moreton Bay Foundation?

South East Queensland (SEQ) has been home for my family and I for the past 12 years. After living abroad for many years, the opportunity to spread roots in the Moreton Bay region was too good to miss. For us, close access to the Bay, the village like feel of the Wynnum-Manly district and associated maritime industries, great schools, public transport and a great community was inviting.

Moreton Bay itself is one of the hidden jewels in South-East Queensland. Whilst SEQ is perhaps best known for the beaches of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, the Bay itself often gets overlooked. It is routine for us when we are teaching sailing to discover that many of our Brisbane born and bred sailing school students have never been out on the Bay. For many, the islands, golden beaches, and clear waters of especially the eastern parts of the Bay come as a surprise. On every other trip in Moreton Bay we see turtles, dolphins and dugongs. Humpback whales routinely stop by in the Bay during winter months. From the craziness of Horseshoe Bay on a hot summer afternoon, to the seclusion of Myora, a location of great cultural significance, on a mid-week winters evening, the Bay is rich in natural and community history.

Over a one hundred year period, the Bay supported a convict prison, leprosy colony, inebriation asylum and a benevolent asylum. The cemetery on Stradbroke Island chronicles the struggles of early European settlers and lies alongside extensive middens laid down by the Quandamooka people, the traditional custodians, over thousands of years. I have worked in many, if not most of the classical cruising grounds of the world. However coming home and anchoring in Blakesley’s Anchorage or watching the sunset from the wrecks at Tangalooma rates right up there.

The Bay, like all coastal regions close to cities, is the receiving environment for materials coming off the land. The ongoing input of fine sediments off catchments continues to smother seagrass meadows and the coral reefs on the western side of the Bay. Nutrients and pollutants trigger blooms of algae, and the pervasive plastic drinking water bottles are to be found almost anywhere, just like in the rest of the worlds’ oceans.

The Bay is often under-represented and forgotten when it comes to considering the impacts of decisions made on the land. This may be a result of the more famous beaches and waterways of the nearby Gold and Sunshine coasts. To this end, it is therefore pleasing to see the re-emergence of a voice for Moreton Bay through the Moreton Bay Foundation (TMBF). After a long period without adequate representation, TMBF brings together key stakeholders, organisations and researchers to better understand, articulate, and advocate for the future of the Bay so that it can continue to be the wonder and resource that it is for future generations.