Experiencing Marine Reserves

Experiencing Marine Reserves

New Zealand
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

EMR is a national programme of experiential learning about marine conservation. EMR’s independence, professional delivery, marine reserves focus and provision of a range of learning styles make it unique within New Zealand. Since its introduction in Northland in 2002, programme uptake has continued to increase throughout the country. EMR empowers schools and communities by providing the equipment and expertise for a hands-on learning experience in the ocean. The programme involves investigating marine biodiversity and local marine environments before venturing to a fully-protected marine reserve. After this experience, students are able to compare unprotected and protected areas and are supported to put their knowledge into action within the community.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

New Zealand is surrounded by ocean - our oceans are a national treasure for many reasons, but we have begun to see a national decline in many of our fish species. It is only recently that we have begun to understand the impacts this has on the rest of our marine environment. Only by working together as a nation towards understanding more about our marine environment can we minimise our impacts upon it and conserve what we have for future generations. Marine education is vital in achieving this goal. Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) provides quality first-hand marine education experiences and initiatives to schools and communities throughout New Zealand. The aim of the EMR programme is to raise awareness, understanding and involvement in marine conservation.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) programme empowers schools and communities by providing hands-on experience in the ocean. The programme involves investigating marine biodiversity and the local marine environment before venturing to a fully-protected marine reserve. After this experience, students are able to compare unprotected and protected areas and are encouraged to put their knowledge into action within the community. Marine reserves are vitally important for the conservation of marine biodiversity for future generations, and provide unique educational and inspirational opportunities. The Experiencing Marine Reserves education programme is an essential step towards improving public perceptions about marine conservation by providing information and experience. The programme sets a basic building block for the establishment of marine conservation areas around New Zealand. The young people of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and their attitudes will shape society. Therefore, marine education is vital, to protect marine resources and biodiversity for the future. The Experiencing Marine Reserve programme would not be successful without help from the community, as the nature of the programme requires a 1:2 adult/child ratio that automatically brings in the wider community. Therefore it is not only a school engagement project, but also a community awareness and engagement programme.
About You
Organization:
Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust
Visit website
Section 1: About You
First Name

Samara

Last Name

Nicholas

Organization

Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust

Country

, NTL

Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust

Organization Phone
Organization Address
Organization Country

, NTL

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, NTL

Would you like to participate in the MIF Opportunity 2010?

Innovation
Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
What impact have you had on your clients and the tourism sector?

In the final stage of the programme it’s time for students (and/or community members) to do something for the environment, such as hold an investigation as to where a marine reserve would go, share findings with the local community, run a public survey or make a submission about marine conservation. This exercise empowers students to express their feelings and findings. Over the years students have been involved in a range of action projects, from writing letters to their local authorities to letters to Members of Parliament, presentations in front of assembly to presentations at public events.
 Evaluation has shown that students have retained there interest sparked by EMR and continued to be actively involved in marine conservation throughout their high school education
 Research for WWF-NZ confirmed the success of the programme in motivating more teachers and students to become actively involved in issues such as the plight of Maui’s dolphin.
 Students are inspired to become marine biologists
 After participating in the programme students have returned to the marine reserve to snorkel with their families
 Community Guided snorkel days in recently opened marine reserves engage the community and encourage community support

The programme receives mass national media coverage and some international media attention, including through National Geographic.

Actions

The Northland-based Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust was established in 2002, as a charitable umbrella and support organisation for the Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) marine education and Whitebait Connection (WBC) freshwater education programmes. These are both leading models in education for sustainability in New Zealand and now available nationally.
The Trust sees education as a vital part of society and central to all environmental restoration. Our work involves providing dynamic experiential education programmes that engage schools and communities in conservation and the pursuit of sustainability.
In addition to EMR and WBC we have developed a range of supporting projects, resources and services such as community guided snorkel days, community events for Seaweek & Conservation week, DVD’s, the MarineNZ website, and the Drains to Harbour and Mangrove Discovery programmes.
The continued development of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust brings together an extensive array of professional skills and diverse capabilities.

Results

Over the next three years we would like to reach all Northland schools (we have already reached over 50%). EMR will continue to develop quality marine education resources and also offer the many other community services we have developed to date in Northland, such as community guided snorkel days, community events for Seaweek and Conservation Week, the Drains To Harbour programme, interactive CD ROM and DVD, EMR website www.emr.org.nz and Marine Conservation Supporter Groups. It is EMR’s priority to grow and maintain the programme in Northland and maintain national delivery of the EMR programme throughout at least five different regions of New Zealand.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

*Funding
From sources other than government and grants
*Continued Community Support
Continue to partner with motivated community groups to achieve results, as government push for marine protection not priority
*Continued government support
Achieving our goals for marine education and more marine reserves requires support

Services
EMR coordinators offer guidance, direction and coordination of classroom exercises and field trips to the ocean. We also provide snorkel equipment, instruction, resources and snorkel risk management. For many students, it is their first time using snorkel gear. EMR snorkelling experiences require a 1:2 adult/student ratio for year 8 and below, the result being active involvement of many family and community members. Most aspects of Northland delivery to schools are offered for free thanks to sponsorship and support from a wide range of organisations. WE HOPE TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE FREE (by gaining support and grants etc) PROGRAMME AS MOST SCHOOLS COULD NOT AFFORD TO PAY

What would prevent your project from being a success?

main limiting factor is continued access to funding
Quote from teacher = Without the EMR programme, these amazing experiences would not have been possible for our children, and we greatly appreciate the work put in by Samara and her team. The EMR programme is well run, and it covers many different learning objectives from the New Zealand Curriculum. Had EMR been a user-pays experience, our children would not have been able to participate due to lack of funds.

We are currently moving forward and looking at more long-term funding solutions to continue quality programme delivery and to enable the continuation of the position for EMR director, and to encourage enterprise and employment by making further coordinator positions available. Over the next 3 years we aim to reach 100% of Northland schools (we have already reached 50%). EMR will continue to develop quality marine education resources and also to offer the many other services we have developed to date in Northland, such as community guided snorkel days, community events for Seaweek & Conservation Week, the interactive EMR CD & DVD, the EMR website (www.emr.org.nz), the MarineNZ website (www.marinenz.org.nz), Marine Conservation Supporter Groups and the Drains to Harbour and Mangrove Discovery programmes. All these activities add value to the sound programme we have already developed, and our current priorities are to continue to build on these activities in Northland while further developing the national delivery of the EMR programme.

How many people will your project serve annually?

1001‐10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$100 ‐ 1000

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy or introduce models and tools that benefit the tourism sector in general?

Yes

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

In what country?

, NTL

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

If yes, provide organization name.

Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?

Yes

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

EMR has non-monetary partnerships with local Department of Conservation offices to ensure outcomes are shared when introducing people to local marine reserves. We work closely with NGO's such as Forest and Bird and WWF-NZ to ensure they are aware of our progress. Many local businesses support us in return for promotion etc on our community events. EMR receives snorkel equipment from Wettie www.wettie.co.nz , and Dive Tutukaka www.diving.co.nz sponsors a trip to the Poor Knights annually. Zartaj www.zartaj.co.nz sponsor the EMR website. We work closely with the communities we active in, currently we working very closely with the group www.fishforever.org.nz
The ‘Fish Forever’ campaign has a clear aim of achieving a network of no-take marine sanctuaries in the Bay fo Islands with consultation in the community. The Cape Rodney to Okakari Point marine reserve near Leigh has proven the economic benefits of marine reserves for tourism, the Bay of Islands is one of our tourism centres, yet no marine reserves are currently in place. The Fish Forever group are focused on community engagement and working with stakeholders such as EMR

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

Funding sources to maintain our EMR programme delivery in Northland but also continue its expansion around New Zealand and possibly into the Pacific

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

In my last year of high school i was involved in a project to establish a marine reserve in the Whangarei Harbour, this project opened my eyes to the need for marine conservation and the importance of hands-on marine education to motivate change

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Samara Nicholas is the Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) national coordinator. EMR is an innovative marine education programme that brings school children, youth & community groups face to face with the marine environment. Samara is a founding member of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust and is its programme director. She was recognised in 2005 in the Sir Peter Blake Leadership awards as one of New Zealand’s Emerging Leaders. Samara attended the world first International Marine Protected Areas Congress in 2005 and was awarded a Northland Conservation Award, she was also named the Whangarei Young person of the year in 2004. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from AUT and is a graduate of Northland Polytechnic’s Diploma of Environmental Management. Samara is the creative force behind the development of the Experiencing Marine Reserves programme, coordinated in Northland and spreading fast to the rest of New Zealand and beyond. Samara is also a graduate of Kamo High School, where she was Head Girl and played a key role in the Kamo High School marine reserve proposal.

Youth Activities

Samara’s EMR programme empowers schools and communities by providing hands-on experience in the ocean. The programme involves investigating marine biodiversity and the local marine environment before venturing to a fully-protected marine reserve. After this experience, students are able to compare unprotected and protected areas and are encouraged to put their knowledge into action within the community.

Samara believes that marine reserves are vitally important for the conservation of marine biodiversity for future generations, and provide unique educational and inspirational opportunities. The EMR education programme is an essential step towards improving public perceptions about marine conservation by providing information and experience. The programme sets a basic building block for the establishment of marine conservation areas around New Zealand. The young people of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and their attitudes will shape society. Therefore, marine education is vital, to protect marine resources and biodiversity for the future.

Samara has written & produced interactive educational resources (CD ROM, video & website) featuring information and images about marine biodiversity and conservation.

Samara offers schools expertise, a hands-on approach to learning about marine biodiversity, and opportunities for conservation. The programme is structured around creating a very special and individual experience with students’ local marine environment. This is done through guidance, direction and coordination of classroom exercises and field trips to the ocean. The aim of the programme is to raise awareness, understanding and involvement in marine conservation through provision of dynamic experiential environmental education opportunities.

Samara works with youth on a day to day basis by:

• Delivering EMR programme to schools and communities
• Organising youth action groups
• Promoting youth involvement in community issues
• Organising guided snorkel days
• Leadership and motivation presentations to youth
• Employing youth

Below is a comment from a parent about how Samara’s EMR programme can benefit Youth:
“Personally it has enlightened my outlook on marine issues and the negative impact we have had and are forcing upon this environment. What these issues are and what we can do to alleviate the negative effect. The EMR program can gradually help balance this effect to a more positive outcome over time by educating not only our youth but also their families. Because of the adult safety requirement when in the water it is an advantageous by-product for this program that family members are involved. So we all learn.
The message of EMR is reaching a larger audience than just youth but they are the ones who will carry this knowledge into the future and influence others and make more informed decisions than we have in the past for the benefit of our marine environment” – Kristin Isaacs

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