The PADI AWARE Foundation has announced more than US$150,000 is to be made available to help local communities take action for ocean conservation. The funds are the first of PADI’s 2022 Mission Hub Community Grant Programme, for which PADI AWARE is now accepting the next round of applications.
From giant kelp rehabilitation to the protection of vulnerable sea turtle species, sixteen community initiatives around the planet were selected. PADI AWARE has dedicated nearly one-quarter of its public funds to fund additional recipients this year, and aims to ‘substantially increase’ funding in the next two to five years.
‘We are thrilled to launch this new fund that directly supports community-based ocean conservation projects,’ said Danna Moore, PADI AWARE Foundation’s Global Director. ‘There are so many PADI Dive Centres and NGOs driving meaningful local action, often with little or no funding support. To help ensure these efforts succeed, PADI AWARE is committing 24 per cent of our donations this year to the Community Grant Programme, with a goal of reaching $1million USD in funding by 2024.’
PADI AWARE Community Grants are awarded to ocean protection initiatives and projects in five distinct categories: coral restoration, developing Marine Protected Areas, eliminating marine debris, reducing the effects of climate change, and protecting species threatened with extinction like sharks and turtles.
The grant programme is open to all PADI Dive Centres around the world and to locally based NGOs and charities working on marine conservation issues with an operating budget below US$1 million.
Category: Coral Restoration (6 Funded Projects)
Coral Catch / Gili Shark Conservation: To provide 20 scholarships to local Indonesian women to receive training and education in conservation and coral restoration, enabling them to grow and plant corals, and restore the reef in the Gili Matra Reserve.
Reef Renewal Foundation: To expand local community involvement in Curacao to increase coral restoration initiatives by providing supplies, tools and training for two dive shops (Scubacao and Goby Divers) to run successful, long-term coral restoration projects.
Dodo Reef Restoration / Dodo Divers: To support the restoration of 10,000 sqm of degraded reef by transplanting cultivated coral colonies over a four-year period.
Coral Reef Restoration in Natewa Bay / Ocean Ventures Fiji: To install coral nurseries in two different reef structures and communities in Natewa Bay.
Coral Restoration / Big Bubble Dive Resort: To replant native coral species through citizen science in Chalok Bay, Koh Tao.
Nusa Islands Restoration Project / Blue Corner Dive: To restore coral in a degraded reef flat and slope to stabilise rubble substrate and stimulate coral recovery along the northern coastline of Penida Island.
Category: Vulnerable Species Protection
Bubbles Turtles & Reef Conservation Project / Bubbles Dive Resort: To protect a local turtle nesting site in Perhentian Besar, Terengganu, Malaysia by providing community training and beach patrols, while changing behaviours through education and presentations to local schools and groups to reduce turtle egg consumption.
Aqualife Conservancy: To save the threatened shark-like ray species in Ghana through assessments that include landing surveys, field studies and interviews to gather data that will drive the design of short and medium-term conservation strategies including the development of a locally-managed coastal protected area to safeguard these rays and their critical ecosystem.
The Seahorse Trust: To discover, identify and monitor two marine seahorse species found in Maltese waters: Spiny Seahorse and Short Snouted Seahorse, providing the baseline data needed to protect them by analyzing habitat, pollution and other disturbances versus population density.
Category: Climate Change
Giant Kelp Forest Restoration / Aquarius Dive Shop: 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.
Posidonia Restoration / Kosamare: Year one of a three-year phased project to scientifically monitor and report on the Posidonia habitat, install permanent moorings and restore the marine habitat.
Category: Marine Protected Areas
SRMR Rehabilitation / Beqa Adventure Divers: To assess the degradation of Shark Reef Marine Reserve through biodiversity assessments and fish counts and bolster ecosystem health through both coral restoration and restoration of the giant clam population.
Save the Red Coral Reefs / 7 Perle A.S.D.: To establish a biological monitoring programme to protect a delicate habitat that includes seagrass endemic to the Mediterranean through seabed surveys at multiple depths, determining the extent a habitat can be protected from intensive fishing pressure.
Category: Marine Debris
No Trash Left Behind/ Florida Keys Dive Center: To unite the community around diving with a purpose and decrease marine debris found at local dive sites.
Seattle Dive Tours: To successfully remove the growing amount of debris from the Des Moines Marina.
Project by AquaMarine Diving Bali: To further the work of the Blue Project which provides educational programmes for local schools, coral restoration coverages, turtle and mangrove conservation, and Dive Against Debris.
‘Everyone, everywhere can make a positive difference and together, create a healthy ocean for all,’ said Rose Huizenga, co-founder of Gili Shark Conservation and founder of Coral Catch. ‘Thanks to the PADI AWARE Mission Hub Community Grant Programme, we are one step closer to achieving our goal of offering 20 local women a coral restoration scholarship and doing just that.
PADI AWARE is currently accepting new proposals for funding, with a deadline of Earth Day, April 22, 2022. To learn more and apply, visit www.padi.com/aware/grant-funding-criteria.