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Next steps for the NZL Blue Belt site at Worser Bay

New Zealand is guardian of the fouth largest ocean space on the planet. Less than 0.4% of New Zealand's ocean space is protected. 60% of global marine ecosystems are degraded. Many marine species are on a path to extinction. Yachting New Zealand's vision is that sailing clubs will work with their communities and clusters of schools to establish NZL BLue Belt sites around the country as one way of increasing the amount of our ocean space that has some form of protection, giving marine ecosystems the space and time to recover.



Worser Bay Boating Club is the prototype NZL BLue Belt site for the Moanamana project, which is bringing Yachting New Zealand's vision to life. We have been working with Sport NZ, Yachting New Zealand, Live Ocean, a group of science based organisations and the schools in the Eastern Suburbs of Wellington (Te Kāhui Ako o Motu Kairangi) to test a suite of citizen science tools that sailing and other ocean sports clubs around the country can use to monitor ocean health. And we are continuing to work with school children and our community on a series of marine ecosystem restoration projects as an example for other clubs to follow and adapt in their own NZL Blue Belt sites.



The Worser Bay NZL Blue Belt site is just inside the entrance to Wellington Harbour. The idea is that NZL Blue Belt sites act as stepping stones to marine reserves around the country. For example, the Worser Bay NZL BLue Belt site is a stepping stone to Tapu Te Ranga Marine Reserve on the south coast of Wellington.



The Worser Bay NZL Blue Belt site extends from Seatoun Wharf in the south to Tai Paku Paku Point in the north. Worser Bay Boating Club is in the centre of the site and acts as a base for schoool chldren and the community to participate in ocean health monitoring and marine ecosystem restoration.



We have set up a NZL Blue Belt Ocean Health monitoring tool kit with the help of the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre at the University of Otago. The tools in the kit include Marine Metre Squared for monitoring biodiversity in the intertidal zone, Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) for monitoring life underwater, and plankton, temperature and salinity surveys at selected locations across site. School children are using the tools to develop a longitudinal record of the health of the ocean at the Worser Bay NZL Blue Belt site.



Local school children have also begun a series of projects to restore the marine ecosystem adjacent to Worser Bay Boating Club. The first project was lead by Wellington High School students and involved the creation of a fenced off penguin hotel which now has its first Kororā guests! The second project has been lead by Wellington East Girls College students and involves establsing a Pāua hatchery on the rocks in front of the club as a mechanism for seeding pāua throughout Worser Bay and the surrounding bays. Students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna have been working with Love Rimurimu to plant out seaweed seedlings, with the ultimate goal of restoring kelp beds across the Te Whanganui a Tara, Wellington Harbour. Other projects underway include an anemone garden, a crayfish nursery and a snorkel trail featuring an underwater art gallery.



Students from Worser Bay School and Wellington East Girls College lead a delegation to the Wellington Regional Council Environment Committee to ask them to support the aspirations of Worser Bay Boating Club, the Beach & Boat Wise Trust, and Te Kāhui Ako o Motu Kairangi, guided by the moemoeā of Mana Whenua, to:


1. Establish a community initiated marine protected area so people don’t take fish, shellfish, crustaceans, mollusks, anemones and kelp in a Blue Belt no-take zone around Worser Bay Boating Club for at least the next ten years.  

2. Install a community aquaculture container adjacent to the Worser Bay beach pavilion to raise fish, shellfish, crustaceans and mollusks for release into the Worser Bay Blue Belt no-take zone.

3. Create an artificial reef structure in the intertidal zone adjacent to the diving board and slipway including habitat for fish, shellfish, crustaceans, mollusks, and anemones as part of the Worser Bay Blue Belt no-take zone.

4. Establish a snorkel trail incorporating a series of underwater artworks to act as habitat for fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and mollusks as part of the Worser Bay Blue Belt no-take zone.


You can read about the chlidren's submission in an article published by Radio NZ.



As a result of the children's submission the club, the trust and the kāhui ako will now begin working with officers from Wellington Regional Council (WRC), from the Department of Conservation (DOC) and with scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheirc Research (NIWA) to map out a plan to support the children to bring their ideas to life.


Meanwhile the club, the trust and the kāhui ako will also participate in the Wellington City Council's Coastal Reserves Management planning processes to seek to ensure the land based components of the Worser Bay NZL Blue Belt site are included in the new Coastal Reserves Management plan for Wellington.


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