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Community leader and NOAA collaborator wins major wetlands award

A community leader in Puerto Rico who works closely with NOAA, Roberto Viqueira has earned a prestigious National Wetlands Award. Eileen Sobeck, the Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries, presented the Environmental Law Institute honor to Viqueira on May 11 in Washington, DC.

The founder of the nonprofit Protectores de Cuencas (Watershed Protectors), Viqueira won in the category of Wetlands Community Leader. In less than five years, he reduced pollution and promoted sustainable agriculture in eight watersheds across the island. He has collaborated closely with NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and Office of Habitat Conservation.

“We have to believe in ourselves and act with passion and confidence in order to counteract the challenges of our social, environmental, and economic crisis,” he stated.

Community efforts coordinated by Viqueira include planning wetlands for waste treatment, certifying shade-grown coffee, and launching the “Think Before You Drop It” campaign with NOAA to reduce marine debris. Construction is anticipated in 2016 to create wetlands adjacent to the Guánica Sewage Treatment Plant in southern Puerto Rico.

Viqueira is also active in NOAA’s Caribbean Habitat Focus Area, located in northeastern Puerto Rico. He has educated the area’s construction workers about erosion control, watershed restoration, and the many threatened species living in the region’s extensive seagrass beds and coastal wetlands.

Posted May 13, 2016

Roberto Viqueira won a National Wetlands Award for his community-based work to revive wetlands across Puerto Rico.