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5 February, 2021

Ocean School for Cairns

CAIRNS is set to get a $250,000 ‘Ocean School,’ an education hub which will attract students and young people from all over the world to come and learn about marine conservation on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef.

By Tanya Murphy

It will be the third ocean schools for global marine conservation movement ‘Parley for the Oceans’ with others based in Hawaii and South Africa.

The not-for-profit group has applied to the Cairns Regional Council for a 12-month trial to rent a space at the northern end of the Esplanade, near McKenzie Street, for the outdoor classroom consisting of modular, transportable containers.

However, they are calling for community signatures and letters of support to convince the Council to approve the Esplanade location, after Councillor Terry James questioned its optics.

“Apart from the Ocean School benefiting local schools and the environment, we also see it providing a great benefit for businesses by attracting students and voluntourism to Cairns,” said Parley operations manager Maren Eibner.

“This would support the council’s vision of Cairns being the Green City, a leading city in environmentalism, and create a positive image of Cairns which will boost national tourism.

“The Ocean School will be 2.5 metres high so it will not block ocean views and there is already a car park, a toilet block and trees between the proposed school and residential buildings.

“We’re talking to residents in close proximity to where it will be, including the Coral Towers apartments, and they have been very supportive.

“We have reached out to some local businesses as well. We have an online survey and 97 per cent of respondents so far say they support the school.

“This project will be a big investment from Parley in the community, for the environment.

“If we don’t get approved to rent the space on the Esplanade we will take it somewhere else, but it would be a lost opportunity for Cairns.”

To give their feedback on the proposed school, local residents and businesses can fill out the survey on the Parley for the Oceans Facebook page.

Parley will hold an Open Day this Saturday from 10am-12:30pm including an Esplanade Cleanup and an educational display about the marine debris that Parley have collected in more than 50 clean-ups around the region, as well as a Q and A about the Ocean School.

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