Tributes to ‘visionary’ who saved wild salmon
A campaigner who was credited with restoring the fortunes of Scotland’s wild salmon stocks will be remembered by family, friends and colleagues today.
Orri Vigfússon, the highly respected founder and chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF), died last week in Iceland, just nine days short of his 75th birthday.
His funeral service will be held today in Reykjavík at Hallgrímskirkja.
Once named a “European hero” by Time magazine, Mr Vigfusson’s dedication to saving North Atlantic salmon from extinction has earned him accolades from France, Denmark and Iceland, as well as the Goldman Environmental Prize and a conservation award from the Duke of Rothesay.
He helped turn around the fortunes of Scotland’s wild salmon stocks by leading a campaign to stop drift-net fishermen in England intercepting migrating fish moving up the coast to Scottish rivers.
Elsewhere, he has helped to raise millions of pounds to buy out commercial salmon fishing rights.
As founder and chairman of the NASF, he regularly travelled around Europe, and to Scotland, to speak to anglers and conservationists, lobby government officials and politicians, meet commercial fishermen, and give interviews, and was a regular contributor to the Press and Journal.
Bill Taylor, president and chief executive officer of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, will be among the many friends and colleagues travelling to Iceland to attend Mr Vigfússon’s funeral today.
Paying tribute last night, he said: “As well as his leadership of NASF, Orri had been a director of the Atlantic Salmon Federation (US) for 27 years.
“He was a dear friend of his fellow ASF directors and our staff and someone I admired greatly.
“Over our many years of working together we became fast friends. We worked together on the buyouts of the Greenland commercial salmon fishery in the mid 1990s and again on the Salmon Conservation Agreement with Greenland’s fishermen that was in effect from 2002-2011.
“Those deals saved tens of thousands of large spawners. In fact we were working on a new deal with Greenland’s fishermen right up until a few days before his passing.”
Mr Taylor added: “Orri was a visionary and someone whose dedication and tireless efforts on behalf of wild Atlantic salmon inspired all of us who knew him and worked with him to raise our own game.
“We have lost a great friend, wild salmon champion, a loving family man and a gentleman. I know that I will think of him every time I am fortunate enough to catch and carefully release a wild Atlantic salmon.”
Mr Vigfússon died of lung cancer at Iceland’s national hospital in Reykjavík on July 1. He is survived by his wife Unnur Kristinsdóttir, two children and three granddaughters.
The NASF said: “Mr Vigfússon has for 27 years tirelessly fought for the survival and restoration of the wild Atlantic salmon through the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, earning him the admiration and respect of environmentalists all over the world.
“He was recognised internationally for his vital conservation work and was awarded with numerous distinguished awards.”
Orri Vigfússon was named ‘European hero’ by Time magazine