PADI AWARE Announces 2022 Marine Conservation Grant Recipients
Funding from PADI will support habitat, pollution and disturbance analyses to protect seahorses in Maltese waters.
The PADI AWARE Foundation rang in Earth Day this year in a big way by announcing the first recipients of its Mission Hub Community Grant Program. In support of the U.N. Decade of Science for Sustainable Development, the program aims to accelerate education, advocacy and participation in ocean conservation activities.
Many community-based NGOs and dive shops are already driving meaningful local action. These grants will provide financial support to accelerate those initiatives. “To help ensure these efforts succeed, PADI AWARE is committing 24 percent of our donations this year to the Community Grant Program, with a goal of reaching 1 million [dollars] in funding by 2024,” says Dana Moore, global director of the PADI AWARE Foundation. Corresponding with the PADI Blueprint for Ocean Action, grants are awarded to initiatives that fall within five distinct categories: coral restoration, vulnerable species protection, climate change, MPAs and marine debris.
From restoring at-risk marine habitats to uniting communities around underwater trash collection, here are the first 16 initiatives driving local and global action.
These six citizen science projects will receive grants to support their work in coral reef recovery and restoration: Coral Catch/Gili Shark Conservation will provide 20 scholarships to train local Indonesian women to grow and plant corals, and restore the reef in the Gili Matra Marine Reserve. Reef Renewal Foundation will provide supplies, tools and training to two dive shops in Curaçao (Scubacao and Goby Divers) to run long-term coral restoration projects. Dodo Reef Restoration/Dodo Divers LTD will support the restoration of 10,000 square meters of degraded reef by transplanting cultivated coral colonies over a four-year period. Coral Reef Restoration in Natewa Bay/Ocean Ventures Fiji will install coral nurseries in two different reef structures and communities in Natewa Bay. Coral Restoration/Big Bubble Dive Resort will replant native coral species through citizen science in Chalok Bay, Koh Tao. Nusa Islands Restoration Project/Blue Corner Dive will restore coral in a degraded reef flat and slope to stabilize rubble substrate and stimulate coral recovery off Penida Island.
Vulnerable Species Protection
These three in-country conservation campaigns will help protect vulnerable species: Turtles & Reef Conservation Project/Bubbles Dive Resort will train the community to protect a local turtle nesting site in Perhentian Besar, Terengganu, Malaysia through beach patrols, and will provide education to dissuade turtle-egg consumption. AquaLife Conservancy aims to save the threatened sharklike ray species in Ghana through landing surveys, field studies and interviews to gather data that will drive the design of short- and medium-term conservation strategies. The Seahorse Trust is set to discover, identify and monitor two marine seahorse species—spiny seahorse and short-snouted seahorse—found in Maltese waters, providing the baseline data needed to protect them via habitat, pollution and disturbance analysis.
These two initiatives will address the ongoing effects of climate change: Giant Kelp Forest Restoration/Aquarius Dive Shop aims to protect California’s threatened kelp forests by testing rehabilitation and protection methods, including the removal of invasive species as well as replanting and growing new kelp. In year one of a three-year phased project, Posidonia Restoration/Kosamare will scientifically monitor and report on the Posidonia habitat, install permanent moorings and restore marine habitats.
Marine Protected Areas
Marine protected areas have far-reaching benefits, such as providing space for vulnerable species to recover, ongoing monitoring of at-risk environments and species, and spillover of marine resources into other nearby depleted areas.
SRMR Rehabilitation/Beqa Adventure Divers will assess the degradation of Shark Reef Marine Reserve through biodiversity assessments and fish counts and bolster ecosystem health through both coral and giant clam restoration. Save the Red Coral Reefs/7 Perle A.S.D. will establish a biological monitoring program to protect a delicate habitat that includes sea grass endemic to the Mediterranean through seabed surveys at multiple depths, determining the extent a habitat can be protected from intensive fishing pressure.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, joining the 150 million metric tons already in circulation
To mitigate this problem, No Trash Left Behind/Florida Keys Dive Center aims to unite the community around diving with a purpose and decrease marine debris found at local dive sites. Similarly, Seattle Dive Tours will take action to remove the growing amount of debris from the Des Moines Marina. AquaMarine Diving Bali will further the work of the Blue Project, which provides educational programs for local schools, coral restoration coverage, turtle and mangrove conservation, and Dive Against Debris activities.
The next round of applications for the PADI AWARE Foundation’s Mission Hub Community Grant Program will open in October 2022. Visit padi.com/aware/community-grants to learn more and see if you’re eligible.