Dr. Marty Arostegui’s work protecting this national treasure will have lasting impacts for our country and future generations of divers, fishers, boaters, and other national park visitors.

The National Parks Conservation Association is proud to announce that Dr. Martin “Marty” Arostegui of Coral Gables, Florida will receive NPCA’s 2021 Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award.

Dr. Arostegui is a longtime NPCA member and lifelong angler who holds more world records from the International Game and Fish Association than anyone else in history. He is also a dedicated marine conservationist, and one of the most informed, passionate voices calling for a marine reserve to protect wildlife at Biscayne National Park.

With more than sixty years of fishing experience in the region, Dr. Arostegui has watched Biscayne National Park’s coral reefs and marine wildlife fall into sharp decline. Decades of overfishing and overuse, combined with stressors like coral bleaching, coral disease, and pollution have taken a serious toll on the park.

Many reef fishspecies in Biscayne are overfished, with someliterally on the verge of collapse. Intensive fishing and the impacts of fishing gear on reefs have also contributed to the decline of Biscayne’s coral reefs, which provideimportant habitat to wildlife like lobsters, reef fish, and sea turtles. Today, there is less living coral reef in Biscayne than ever recorded.

Dr. Arostegui is not letting Biscayne National Park decline further without a fight. Over the years, he has been a constant fixture at public meetings and events rallying for more protections for Biscayne’s waters. He has shared his unique perspective on Biscayne and fishing at every opportunity in letters, speeches, and beyond. His work offers firsthand evidence of the urgent need to protect the waters at our country’s largest marine national park.

In 2019, he led NPCA staff and reporters from The Miami Herald on an expedition into the park’s waters, highlighting areas of decline. This led to a front-page feature story featuring Dr. Arostegui’s perspective, followed by in-depth video interviews with him and a later Miami Herald column highlighting the threat. Thanks to Marty, millions of people in South Florida know what’s at stake for Biscayne National Park.

Most recently, Dr. Arostegui has been a vocal supporter of NPCA’s litigation against the Department of Interior and National Park Service regarding the agencies’ failure to implement measures to protect the park’s marine wildlife and habitat

NPCA’s annual Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award was established in 1986 to honor individuals who go to great lengths to advocate and fight for the protection of our national parks. Named for Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a life-long advocate for Everglades National Park, the award recognizes the outstanding efforts of an individual or group that result in the protection of a national park or proposed site in the National Park System.

Statement of Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association:

“The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award is one of the highest honors the National Parks Conservation Association bestows, granted only to a select few people who have gone to extraordinary lengths to protect our parks. There is no doubt that Marty is one of those few.

“He has earned our sincere gratitude and admiration for his countless hours of dedicated advocacy for Biscayne National Park, from the side of his boat to the halls of Congress. His work protecting this national treasure will have lasting impacts for our country and future generations of divers, fishers, boaters, and other national park visitors.

“It’s fitting that this honor, named for another iconic park advocate from South Florida, should be awarded to Dr. Marty Arostegui.”

Statement of Dr. Melissa Abdo, Sun Coast Regional Director for the National Parks Conservation Association:

“It’s hard to picture Biscayne National Park and the waters of our beloved Biscayne Bay without also thinking of Marty Arostegui. For as long as I have known him, Marty has put his heart and soul into protecting the waters of Biscayne for future generations.

“Marty has stood with the National Parks Conservation Association in our years-long fight to protect iconic coral reefs and beautiful marine wildlifeat our country’s largest marine national park. Marty is also active in pressing for protections for the wetlands and swamps of the Everglades. He recognizes that how we treat the land in South Florida in turn impacts our waters which in turn impacts all Floridians. He is a leader, trusted partner in our community, and good friend.

“He feels at home on the water, and always generously shares his wisdom from decades out on the water with those around him.When Marty speaks of the need for conservation of Biscayne, you absolutely feel the truth in his words. I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Marty.”

About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.5 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org