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PADI AWARE Foundation surpasses $500,000 in Mission Hub grants

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PADI AWARE Foundation
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The PADI AWARE Foundation has announced the recipients for its 2024 Mission Hub Community Grant Programme, bringing the total to 45 grantees since the programme started three years ago receiving a total of over $500,000 in grants collectively.

The global non-profit is continuing to team up with passionate Ocean Torchbearers working to create a healthier future for ocean ecosystems around the world by empowering those who are dedicated to accelerating their local actions to drive global ocean change.

From sea turtle conservation to coral restoration to seagrass planting, five community initiatives around the planet were selected as the 2024 recipients.

“We are thrilled to continue our grant programme that directly supports community-based ocean conservation projects,” says Danna Moore, PADI AWARE Foundation’s Global Director. “These PADI Dive Centres and NGOs are driving meaningful local action from the heart and often with little or no funding support, and these grants allow them to be true superheroes for our shared blue planet.”

PADI AWARE launched its Mission Hub Community Grant Programme in 2022 to further drive PADI’s Blueprint for Ocean Action, with the grants awarded in the five distinct categories that have been mapped out, identified to drive the most impactful positive ocean change: coral restoration, developing Marine Protected Areas, eliminating marine debris, reducing the effects of climate change, and marine species protection.

PADI joins PADI AWARE in celebrating the following initiatives, welcoming them as grantees in the first cycle of the 2024 Mission Hub Community Grant Programme:

Sea Communities (Indonesia) | Coral Restoration

In 2012, Sea Communities was founded in Bali to continue the coral restoration work with the local fishing community, employing citizen scientists to fuel the work. To this day, Sea Communities works with the fishing community and marine scientists from universities around the world to restore the coral habitat. They’ve expanded into coral nurseries, micro-fragmentation trials, and mass plantings by volunteer divers and local fisherfolk.

This grant will enable Sea Communities to continue the work of STARR (Scientific Trial Active Reef Rehabilitation), bringing community and traveling recreational divers together with scientists to work together on coral conservation.

“I wish more of humanity could dive and see how wondrous it is underwater,” says Elaine Kwee, Co-Founder, Sea Communities. “Science needs to be communicated to the layperson and particularly, to coastal communities that need it. STARR draws these elements together and provides divers with a meaningful opportunity to take action to protect our blue planet.”

Rwenzori Scuba Divers and Salvage Limited (East Africa) | Eliminating Marine Debris

Waste management (especially the production of plastic goods) is a problem across the region. With 90% of rivers in Uganda draining into Lake Victoria, the main source of fish, transport, and water supply for 20 million people is also the most polluted body of water in the East African region.

The PADI AWARE Foundation grant will provide critical resources for Rwenzori Scuba Divers to establish the Lake Victoria Rwenzori Scuba Divers and PADI AWARE Conservation Programme (LVRPA Initiative) to address waste management issues affecting the lake. The initiative aims to reduce poor waste management and improve sanitation issues through citizen science, community engagement and training, conservation partnerships, youth initiatives, and Dive Against Debris clean-ups and surveys in Lake Victoria and its tributaries.

“Our Dive Against Debris on Lake Victoria-River Nile Uganda is a game changer to provide data for Uganda to understand the inland contribution to save our ocean,” says George William Mukasa, Director and Project Manager of Rwenzori Scuba Divers and Salvage Limited.

Mike's Dauin Beach Resort (Philippines) | Marine Species Protection

Mike’s Dauin Beach Resort, a Five Star PADI Dive Resort in Dauin, Philippines, is committed to responsible diving and protecting the fragile marine ecosystem of their local waters, including their 13km coastline that has extensive seagrass beds which provide foraging for green sea turtles.

Their grant will support their Project Pawikan (‘sea turtle' in local dialect), which surveys sea turtles and documents the distribution and health of the turtle population and the seagrass beds they frequent. Working with local and national authorities, Project Pawikan will be in a position to inform decision-makers as to how to safeguard Dauin’s sea turtles for future generations.

“Project Pawikan will help raise awareness, locally and beyond, of the importance of seagrass beds as Green Turtle foraging grounds, and the need to improve their protection,” says Jonathan Anderson, Project Pawikan Officer.

Blue Corner Dive Penida (Indonesia) | Coral Restoration

With three dive centres located across Bali, Blue Corner Dive is expanding its conservation arm – Blue Corner Marine Research – to build upon the coral restoration work they have been doing in the area since 2017. Blue Corner Marine Research focuses on conservation education, reef health monitoring, and ecosystem restoration and has been working on a large-scale coral restoration effort in an area of degraded reef along the northern coastline of Nusa Penida. Though impacted by physical damage, this reef is arguably the most ecologically important reef in the Nusa Islands, acting as a refuge for the highest number of different coral species in the area.

Funds received by the PADI AWARE Mission Hub Community Grant will enable 1,000 square metres of degraded reef restoration. The project also creates opportunities for Indonesian marine biologists to work and train others in coral restoration. Blue Corner Dive’s team of Indonesian women marine biologists were trained as PADI Divemasters this year and will be leading the conservation efforts to restore reefs through citizen science and educate both divers and the local community.

Big Bubble Dive Resort (Thailand) | Coral Restoration

Operated by locals within the community of Koh Tao, Thailand, Big Bubble Dive Resort is committed to restoring coral reefs in the area. Since 2017, they have been working with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources Thailand, planting more than 100,000 coral fragments around the island. With the support of PADI AWARE Foundation, Big Bubble Dive Resort expanded the project in 2022.

With a proven survival rate of 80%, Big Bubble Dive Resort is embarking on a new coral restoration initiative with funds from the PADI AWARE grant. They will plant 3,000 coral fragments in Chalok Bay to commemorate Big Bubble Dive Resort's 30th anniversary, mobilizing local and international divers to participate through their citizen science programme. The artificial reefs they plant will serve as a resource for interested divers to learn more about coral reef conservation.

“The oceans are too big for one single hand to protect and care for,” says Mr. Chatsakul  Kaewpanao, PADI Course Director and General Manager of Big Bubble Dive Resort. “However, if many small hands work together, our oceans will definitely get better.”

The PADI AWARE Mission Hub Community 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.

For more information on funding criteria and eligibility, click here.

About PADI AWARE Foundation’s Mission Hub Community Grant Programme

The PADI AWARE Foundation’s Mission Hub Community Grant Programme is a cornerstone initiative to accelerate participation, education, and advocacy for ocean protection. The programme will provide direct financial resources to PADI Mission Hubs and community-based non-profits to address key ocean threats like climate change, marine debris, marine habitat loss, and marine species protection. For all grant cycles, all potential applicants will be required to complete an initial Eligibility Quiz. If your organisation meets the requirements of the Eligibility Quiz you will be sent an email with a link to the application.

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Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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