Erica Martin from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (left) and Australian Seabird Rescue's Marny Bonner (right).
Erica Martin from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (left) and Australian Seabird Rescue's Marny Bonner (right). The Northern Star

World acclaim for Marny Bonner

LOCAL wildlife hero Marny Bonner was recognised by the world's leading animal welfare organisation yesterday for her work with Australian Seabird Rescue.

Colleagues, friends and the media watched as Ms Bonner was presented with the prestigious IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) Action Award at an emotional ceremony at the Australian Seabird Rescue headquarters in Ballina.

Ms Bonner said the award was also dedicated to her partner, the late Lance Ferris, who passed away in October last year.

“It would have been very important to Lance as we have both worked very hard to achieve the ASR mission,” Ms Bonner said.

Ms Bonner said that despite her swag of national awards, she was deeply humbled to be recognised by a world-leading animal rescue organisation.

“It is not about the accolades, but the entire team's efforts to raise awareness about the welfare of seabirds and to empower others to help,” she said.

Australian Seabird Rescue was established at Ballina in 1992 and prospered through the hard work of Ms Bonner, Lance Ferris and many volunteers. Over the years 50 workshops have helped train 400 people in rescuing seabirds, water birds and marine turtles.

Ms Bonner said her journey had been an emotional but rewarding one and she praised the people in her life for helping her along the way.

“I love being able to put people in touch with nature and will now aim to move forward and multiply,” she said.

Ms Bonner said she would continue to focus on the mission of Lance Ferris and Australian Seabird Rescue.

The award was presented as part of the IFAW's Animal Action Week by the Asia Pacific Director, Erica Martin.

Ms Bonner said the major issue ASR now faced was the entanglement of birds and turtles in marine debris such as fishing line, resulting in chronic infections, suffering and starvation.

Since its inception, ASR has rescued over 750 pelicans and 60 other species of aquatic birds throughout every major estuary of NSW, as well as an average 30 marine turtles a year since 1998.

Extensive public awareness campaigns have resulted in a 60 per cent reduction of injuries to seabirds and shorebirds on the Far North Coast.

“The Australian Seabird Rescue concentrates on the symptoms of marine wildlife entanglement and on the causes as well,” Ms Bonner said.

“It would have been very important to Lance as we both worked very hard to achieve the ASR mission.”


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