Renowned local diver Zoona wins global Ocean Award

Renowned local diver Zoona Naseem has won the prestigious global Ocean Awards.

Zoona, co-founder and owner of Moodhu Bulhaa Dive Centre located in the suburban district of Villimale, received the award in the Local Hero Award category.

The Local Hero Award recognises the individual or group that has had the most positive impact on the marine environment within their local community this year. The winner is typically a recognised leader on marine conservation issues within their community or organisation.

Now in its fourth year, BOAT International and Blue Marine Foundation’s Ocean Awards is bigger than ever in scope, breadth and ambition. This year saw a fantastic number of nominations from all over the world. The judges had quite a task on their hands to select the winners for each award from an exceptionally high calibre list of nominees. After a meticulous and lengthy judging period, the outstanding winners were pinpointed.

When Zoona became a PADI course director in 2018, no Maldivian woman had ever qualified to train diving instructors as well as beginners. As president of the Dive Association of the Maldives and co-founder of the Moodhu Bulhaa Dive Centre, she was also the first woman in the Maldives to qualify as a PADI instructor.

She became a tireless campaigner both for ocean conservation and for Maldivian women to learn to dive, to better understand what is at stake and to pass on that knowledge to their children.

Over her career, Zoona, who has logged more than 12,000 dives, has enabled in excess of 11,000 people to dive, 400 of them Maldivian women. She talks with enthusiasm of “the dozens of sharks, huge schools of eagle rays and abundant fish life” it is possible to see in these waters.

She was also one of the key person who piloted a government scheme named Farukoe (“reef child”) that will ensure every Maldivian child gets to experience a coral reef if only by going snorkelling. This should, in turn, encourage a generation to grow up aware of the importance to the Maldives of protecting and maintaining a thriving marine ecosystem.

Not surprisingly she has become a marine ambassador and an advocate for the environment, which she says is “a privilege”. And last year, she received the Maldivian president’s National Award of Recognition in the area of Diving (Recreational Scuba Diving).

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