Ms Shafiya Naeem, currently the Director General of the Maldives Marine Research Institute, the research arm of the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture, has been working at the ministry since 2000.
Pursuing an undergraduate degree in 2002 at the University of Tasmania, Australia, Shafiya graduated with a Bachelor of Aquaculture with Honours (in 2005). After returning to Maldives, she continued to work at Maldives Marine Research Institute (then Marine Research Centre) focusing on mariculture/aquaculture.
Ms Shafiya’s passion for the field of aquaculture took her to University of Stirling, Scotland where she completed her Master’s program in Aquatic Pathobiology, becoming the first woman to be trained in the field of aquaculture and specialized in aquatic animal health in the Maldives.
To date, Shafiya has worked with regional and international organisations, such as NACA, SAARC, OIE and FAO, contributing to key discussions on aquaculture and aquatic animal health issues.
Shafiya has played a key role in various programs that has led to the advancement of aquaculture research in the Maldives, notably the development of training programs, designing and establishing the aquatic animal quarantine facility, and the launch of community farming models
She is currently actively involved in the Sustainable Fisheries Resources Development Project (SFRDP) (2017 – 2022) as the Mariculture Component Coordinator. She is leading the development of the first ever multi-species hatchery in the Maldives that would have the capacity to provide seed stock for local communities. She is also overseeing the operationalization of the aquatic animal health facility that is to be equipped with the key functions of providing quarantine services for imported marine organisms, as well as aquatic disease diagnostic services in preparation for the upcoming mariculture sector.
Shafiya has co-led the MMRI team on developing and mobilizing sample collection mechanisms to identify the cause of a mass mortality of fish experienced across the central Maldives in 2007, and led the identification of Viral Nervous Necrosis (VNN) in cultured groupers for the first time in 2017.
In addition to guiding the research and development of mariculture, Shafiya now leads the MMRI research teams working on introducing new technologies for coral reef restoration, monitoring the reef ecosystems and strengthening the pelagic as well as the reef-based fisheries research. Shafiya manages meaningful dialogues with local and international research organisations toward the advancement of marine scientific research in the Maldives and building local capacity for research and development.