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, EMR has expanded to 8 regions with a team of up to 30 coordinators nationwide.
EMR has guided snorkel experiences for 30943 (42685 including accompanying whanau and teachers) students in NZ marine reserves and over 15647 people have been engaged in EMR organised marine conservation events. The total number of kiwi’s engaged in EMR is now 75000.
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.
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.
Imagine snorkelling amongst a dense kelp forest, surrounded by dozens of fascinating new life forms. A frenzy is created on top of the water. Someone has spotted a crayfish, and everyone is taking turns to dive under to get a glimpse of a cray crouching under a ledge. Students come up gasping for breath, but feel reassured by their adult buddy and bright yellow body board for time out. Some large snapper cruise past to see what the fuss is about. Gurgling sounds come from a snorkel, while an eagle ray rests on the sand below. The kids are easy to spot in their bright yellow & black wetsuits. The parents come in buzzing, and the kids madly tell their mates about how big the snapper they swam with was and how many different fish they saw. This is normal conversation during Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) programme delivery.
- Marine education
Providing quality marine education opportunities to schools, communities and professionals
- Marine conservation
Increasing awareness, encouraging action and support for marine conservation in New Zealand .
- Empowering communities
Providing schools and their communities with the expertise and knowledge to experience their local marine environment first-hand, leading to local communities understanding marine conservation issues in their local area and fostering kaitiakitanga.
“My attitude has changed. I care more about the fish and the environment. I am going to spread the word about marine reserves to my family and friends.”
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’s and below, with the result being the active involvement of many family and community members.
The EMR concept is the essence of the programme:
- Introduction to marine biodiversity
- Investigation of local marine area
- Marine reserve experience
- Comparisons between local area and fully protected area
- Action for the marine environment
EMR programme outcomes:
- Promotes education for sustainability & environmental enlightenment
- Information transfer and opportunities for community development
- Inspires action for the marine environment
- Builds safe snorkelling skills
- Increased awareness, knowledge and involvement in marine conservation
- Empowerment to make a difference in tomorrow’s management of the marine environment
- Media opportunities
- Attitude change
- Promotes youth leadership
- Increased support for marine conservation
- Hands on educational opportunities for ‘learning by doing’ learners
- Specialist snorkel programmes for different ages & abilities
- Participants learn about marine life
- Promotes ethic of Kaitiakitanga
- Embraces Mᾱori culture
After experiencing their local marine environment and the fully protected marine reserve, participants often lead action projects and become kaitiaki of their marine environment. Over the years students have been involved in a range of action projects, from writing letters to their local authorities and Members of Parliament, presentations in front of assembly and public events, investigating where marine protected areas would go and addressing local issues in their community such as sand dune erosion.
Where and when does EMR operate?
Who is involved?
EMR Coordinators, teachers, students, parents, community members, government organisations, non-profit organisations... and anyone with an interest in marine conservation education!!
The Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust (MTSCT)) is a charitable entity based in Northland, and was formed in 2002 as an umbrella organisation for Experiencing Marine Reserves and the Whitebait Connection
EMR aims to 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 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.