Orri VigfÃºsson, Champion of Atlantic Salmon
July 03, 2017
When you catch a salmon in Iceland, Scotland, or Norway, you should raise your glass at the end of the day and toast Orri VigfÃºsson, because it's likely he played an important role in your success. VigfÃºsson did more to conserve and enhance North Atlantic salmon stocks than any other single person. VigfÃºsson passed away July 1, 2017 at Iceland's national hospital in Reyjavik due to lung cancer. He was 74. The funeral service will be held in ReykjavÃk at HallgrÃmskirkja, July 10.
VigfÃºsson grew up fishing his home river the FljÃ³taÃ¡ and other northern rivers, and in the 1980s he became alarmed that once-plentiful wild salmon populations throughout the North Atlantic were rapidly disappearing.
In response, VigfÃºsson founded the Iceland-based North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF). Since 1989, the
organization with its partners has raised and spent $50 million buying out the nets of commercial fishermen in
the important salmon feeding grounds near Greenland and the Faroe Islands. These "mixed stock" commercial
fisheries were crushing open-ocean salmon populations, but thanks to VigfÃºsson's fundraising and his negotiation
skills with netters and longliners, he pioneered one of the most important and successful fisheries conservation
projects the world has known. VigfÃºsson's efforts are a win-win on all fronts. The NASF pays commercial fishermen to stay home, and also assists them in finding alternative employment so that when the temporary agreements end, there's no financial reason to go back to pulling nets.
According to NASF estimates, open-ocean netting in the Atlantic has dropped by more than 85 percent in
the last 15 years and more than 12 million North Atlantic salmon have been saved from harvest. VigfÃºsson also
brokered similar buyouts or moratorium agreements in Iceland, Wales, England, France, Ireland, Northern Ireland,
Scotland, and Norway.