NOAA Partner Named a 2016 National Wetland Award Winner

Roberto meeting with the Mayor of Guánica to garner support for watershed restoration to protect and restore valuable wetland habitats.
Roberto Viqueira won a National Wetlands Award for his community-based work to revive wetlands across Puerto Rico. Credit : NOAA

Roberto Viqueira Ríos, a well respected environmental community leader in Puerto Rico, is the 2016 National Wetlands Award winner in the Wetland Community Leader Category.

The Environmental Law Institute honored him with this award for his many accomplishments in advancing wetland conservation and restoration. Viqueira is the founder of Protectores de Cuencas, a Puerto Rico-based NGO, and is a longtime partner of the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program and NOAA Restoration Center.

"This prestigious award could not have gone to a better and more deserving person," Jennifer Koss, director of the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program said. "Mr. Viqueira is the very definition of a wetland community leader who has devoted his career and life to mobilizing citizens to protect Puerto Rico's wetlands and the marine habitats, like coral reefs, that are connected to them".

Viqueira serves as the Watershed Restoration Coordinator for the Guánica Bay Watershed in Puerto Rico and has worked with NOAA to successfully develop a Watershed Management Plan to identify and prioritize the region's watershed restoration needs.

While serving as the coordinator for the Guánica Bay Watershed, which was designated the first U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Watershed Partnership Initiative site in 2009, he has expanded his work to wetland sites across Puerto Rico.

Through partnerships and leveraging funds from numerous federal and local agencies, he has reduced pollution to the Guánica Bay by furthering efforts to restore the Guánica Lagoon, creating sewage treatment wetlands, and launching the "Think Before You Drop It" campaign with NOAA to reduce marine debris.

He also promotes sustainable agricultural practices, such as shade-grown coffee, and has helped develop a regionally adapted hydroseed for shoreline stabilization, beach restoration, and habitat rehabilitation.

In less than 10 years, Roberto's work has spanned across eight watersheds in Puerto Rico, including Puerto Rico's newly designated Northeast Marine Corridor and Culebra Island (a NOAA Habitat Blueprint Focus Area).

The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program congratulates him for all of his wetland conservation accomplishments!