Orri Vigfusson! How an Icelandic “Green Capitalist” Saved the North Atlantic Salmon
When we first heard about Orri Vigfusson, we were completely astonished. This Icelandic businessman and environmentalist has nearly singlehandedly saved the North Atlantic salmon from a fate similar to the codfish. And he’s done it through “green capitalism.”
Over the past 17 years, Orri and his North Atlantic Salmon Fund have systematically bought and “retired” 85% of the world’s commercial North Atlantic salmon fishing licenses. With supporters including the Prince of Wales, Orri has raised millions to negotiate buy-out deals with 5,200 fishermen and netsmen in western Europe and eastern North America. “I want to negotiate so everyone gets a fair deal,” he says. “I think you will find that virtually every single one of them is now happy. They have a better income, they have a better lifestyle, and it works.”
Orri is pleased with his success – but he won’t be content until he has shut down the remaining 15 per cent of the commercial fishery, which is owned chiefly by Norway, but also by Scotland and Northern Ireland.
His approach may be surprising and even controversial. But there’s no denying it’s been effective. And one can’t help but feel inspired by a person who looks at a huge international problem and boldly decides to fix it himself.
Next month we’ll be presenting Sarika Cullis-Suzuki who is as passionate about the web of life in the high seas as Orri Vigfusson is about salmon. A marine biologist from a family rooted in environmentalism and science, Cullis-Suzuki has been called an “oceans defender,” “Generation Y leader,” and inspirational figure. We think you’ll agree.
In August, we’ll be bringing you my conversation with Edmund Metatawabin, the former chief of the Peetabeck First Nation on the western shore of James Bay. Leader, businessman and teacher, Edmund grew up in the traditional Cree culture, following a way of life that had been sustainable for 10,000 years. What was it like to live that way? In our own search for sustainability, what can we learn from the people of Peetabeck? For me, this was a “transformative” conversation. I look forward to sharing it with you.