Tómmi Knúts began diving in Iceland in 1973 and from then on developed an extensive career as a diving professional. After establishing Iceland’s first PADI dive centre, DIVE.IS in 1998, he spent the following ten years teaching students the wonders of the underwater world and setting the standards for diving in Iceland.
Tómmi’s love for Iceland's natural spaces and his passion to protect them came through in his teaching and as part of the Advanced Open Water Diver course, he used the Search and Recovery Specialty to teach his students how to safely remove debris from underwater. Whilst with his students on one of the clean-up dives in the local harbour, he noticed the rubbish was everywhere, not just in the water, so began organising clean-ups on the shoreline and harbours too.
What started as Tómmi and a few students from his dive centre, grew into bigger events with more and more volunteers attending. Working with Project AWARE, Tommi continued to organise beach and underwater clean-ups and for 23 years and counting, has been at the helm of ‘The Blue Army’ leading the removal of rubbish from the beaches and waters all over Iceland.
“Tómmi's passion has always been the environment and the fight for a better, cleaner future – both on land and underwater. What began as a simple Project AWARE initiative became his main activity today: The Blue Army.” says the team at DIVE.IS.
With the power of volunteers and his passion for ocean protection, Tommi continues to run The Blue Army, now a registered NGO in Iceland. His clean-ups are joined by local and visiting volunteers, politicians and international embassies, and when manpower isn’t enough, Tommi using his signature blue pickup truck to remove large items like fishing nets and other ghost gear.
“Since 1995 over 6500 volunteers of The Blue Army have spent over 66 thousand man-hours in over 200 different projects to remove 1430+ metric tons of all kinds of rubbish (scrap metal, fishing gear, plastic, tires, timber, batteries) from Icelandic nature.” says Tommi.
The Blue Army is well known in Iceland as well as internationally, and Tommi’s dedication to ocean protection doesn’t go unnoticed.
“I have received numerous awards for my contribution for the environment including the highest awards from the government, The Natures Awards. The Blue Army and the NGO Landvernd are nominated to the Nordic Environmental Awards this year for our Clean Iceland program.” says Tommi
The Nominations for the Nordic Council Environment Prize 2018 are in and we couldn’t be prouder that Project AWARE’s loyal volunteer, Tómmi Knúts, is listed for his Blue Army initiative. Tommi has worked tirelessly towards ocean protection for more than 20 years and shows no signs of stopping! He is a shining example of the difference we can all make when we work together for a clean and healthy ocean. Are you ready to take action for ocean protection? Join Project AWARE's global community of ocean adventurers who are making a difference every day. Whether it's a Project AWARE specialty, starting a fundraiser, reducing your single-use plastics or Diving Against Debris, no action is too small. Visit www.projectaware.org/take-action today to find out more.