Trib­utes to ‘vi­sion­ary’ who saved wild salmon

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - FEATURES - BY CALUM ROSS

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

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