Skip to main content

Orri Vigfússon, Champion of Atlantic Salmon

Orri Vigfússon, Champion of Atlantic Salmon
Over the course of his 27 years leading the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, Orri Vigfússon did more to conserve and enhance salmon stocks than any other single person. Photo by Golli

When you catch a salmon in Iceland, Scotland, or Norway, you should raise your glass at the end of the day and toast Orri Vigfússon, because it's likely he played an important role in your success. Vigfússon did more to conserve and enhance North Atlantic salmon stocks than any other single person. Vigfússon 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 Reykjavík at Hallgrímskirkja, July 10.

Vigfússon grew up fishing northern rivers, and in the 1980s he became alarmed that once-plentiful wild salmon populations throughout the North Atlantic were rapidly disappearing.

In response, Vigfússon 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 Vigfússon'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. Vigfússon'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. Vigfússon also brokered similar buyouts or moratorium agreements in Iceland, Wales, England, France, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Norway.


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Scientific Anglers Amplitude Infinity

Scientific Anglers Amplitude Infinity

Scientific Anglers Amplitude Infinity

Tying the Double Barrel Popper

Tying the Double Barrel Popper

All these tricks can be put to use on poppers or sliders for anything with fins, from panfish to billfish.

George Daniels Hauling Tuck Cast

George Daniels Hauling Tuck Cast

George Daniels Hauling Tuck Cast

Rio Technical Trout

Rio Technical Trout

Rio Technical Trout

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

George Daniels offers his advice on which types of fly-fishing leaders are best for the most common applications you'll encounter on the water.Picking the Perfect Fly-Fishing Leader Beginners

Picking the Perfect Fly-Fishing Leader

George Daniel

George Daniels offers his advice on which types of fly-fishing leaders are best for the most...

Locating fish is the first step to a successful outing.Best Spots to Find Trout and Bass Beginners

Best Spots to Find Trout and Bass

Ross Purnell

Locating fish is the first step to a successful outing.

This line control is one of the unique aspects of fly fishing.How to Mend, Set the Hook, and Strip Line Beginners

How to Mend, Set the Hook, and Strip Line

Landon Mayer | Illustrations by Joe Mahler - August 11, 2020

This line control is one of the unique aspects of fly fishing.

See More Trending Articles

More Industry

Most fly-fishing industry professionals we spoke with remain optimistic about the future.How Coronavirus has Impacted the Fly-Fishing Travel Industry Industry

How Coronavirus has Impacted the Fly-Fishing Travel Industry

Bill Bowers - May 12, 2020

Most fly-fishing industry professionals we spoke with remain optimistic about the future.

Ryan Williams used only a fly rod to compete.Fly Fisher Wins Bass Tournament Industry

Fly Fisher Wins Bass Tournament

Fly Fisherman Staff - January 12, 2021

Ryan Williams used only a fly rod to compete.

New, alternative ways to connect with the community during a time of crisis.Orvis Introduces 'Virtual Casting Instruction' Industry

Orvis Introduces 'Virtual Casting Instruction'

Fly-Fisherman Staff - September 17, 2020

New, alternative ways to connect with the community during a time of crisis.

Simon is the third generation of the Perkins family to lead Orvis since 1965.Simon Perkins is the New President of Orvis Industry

Simon Perkins is the New President of Orvis

Fly Fisherman - May 27, 2020

Simon is the third generation of the Perkins family to lead Orvis since 1965.

See More Industry

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Fly Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Fly Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now