Dr Zeehan Jaafar wins SeaKeepers Asia Award


The International SeaKeepers Society, Asia has honoured Dr Zeehan Jaafar with the SeaKeeper of Singapore accolade

Dr Zeehan Jaafar, SeaKeepers, Asia, The International SeaKeepers Society, Southern Islands, Singapore, Blue Plan, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, NUS

Dr Zeehan Jaafar and Julian Chang, President of Seakeepers Asia

The International SeaKeepers Society, Asia (SeaKeepers Asia) has presented Dr Zeehan Jaafar with the SeaKeeper of Singapore Award for her contribution to marine science and conservation.


A marine biologist and lecturer with the Department of Biological Sciences at National University of Singapore, Dr Jaafar specialises in the evolution, ecology and behaviour of fish and has been working for the protection of the reefs at Southern Islands.

She has led efforts to document and build a DNA library of the fish of Singapore and was the co-lead in curating an online ‘fish library’ of 500 species, five previously unidentified, with the help of scientists from Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory.

Dr Jaafar was also the lead editor for Singapore’s Blue Plan 2018, a document presented to the government by the community for the conservation of marine areas in Singapore. A ground-up initiative led by five marine biologists and with over 100 contributors, it includes scientific and legislative data to support the proposed recommendations.

In the Blue Plan, habitat types such as seagrass meadows and mangrove areas are proposed for preservation in addition to coral reefs, the focus of earlier recommendations. The protection of island clusters, instead of specific coral reef areas, is recommended for the first time to ensure interconnectivity between habitats is preserved.

The Blue Plan consists of six recommendations as a multi-approach strategy towards the holistic management of marine areas through active protection of remaining areas; ongoing scientific studies that can inform management decisions; implementation of sound environmental policies; and education and public outreach.

Dr Jaafar has also formed working groups to work on the six recommendations to create awareness on local marine biodiversity and subsequently improved management on the fragile habitats. She also engages in broad marine conservation issues and strives to understand through scholarly pursuits and through on-the-ground efforts by volunteering at various marine areas in the region.

Dr Jaafar is the latest recipient of awards from The International SeaKeepers Society (SeaKeepers), which was founded in 1998, while the Asia chapter headed by Julian Chan was formed in 2015.

In June 2015, SeaKeepers launched the SeaKeepers of the World Programme to identify individuals who demonstrate a commitment to ocean research and conservation in their local communities. The SeaKeepers Board of Directors recognises individuals whose environmental goals and scientific and conservation efforts align with the SeaKeepers mission to Research, educate, protect and restore.


SeaKeepers of the World

Dr Zeehan Jaafar – 2021 SeaKeeper of Singapore

Dr Achier Chung – 2019 SeaKeeper of Malaysia

Dr Karenne Tun – 2018 SeaKeeper of Singapore

Francis Lee – 2017 SeaKeeper of Singapore

Francesca Von Hasberg – 2017 SeaKeeper of Jamaica

Judie Clee – 2017 SeaKeeper of Bermuda

Chris Flook – 2017 SeaKeeper of Bermuda

Philippe Max Rouja – 2017 SeaKeeper of Bermuda

John Paul Skinner – 2017 SeaKeeper of Bermuda

Dr Carrie Manfrino – 2016 SeaKeeper of the Cayman Islands

Professor Chou Loke Ming – 2016 SeaKeeper of Singapore

Dr Cécile Gaspar – 2015 SeaKeeper of French Polynesia

Casper van de Geer – 2015 SeaKeeper of Kenya

Commodore Escrich – 2015 SeaKeeper of Cuba


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