[Sust-mar] The Green Interview: How an Icelandic 'green capitalist' saved the North Atlantic salmon

Laura Landon laura.landon at bellaliant.net
Thu Jun 27 21:18:21 EDT 2013

Text Box: www.thegreeninterview.com

June 28, 2013


Orri Vigfusson: How an Icelandic 'green capitalist' saved the North Atlantic


An Icelandic businessman and environmentalist says "green capitalism" is the
sustainable way to save natural resources such as fish and forests. And his
remarkably successful efforts to save the North Atlantic salmon show that
his methods work.


Over the past 17 years, Orri Vigfusson has systematically bought and shut
down all but 15 per cent of the world's commercial North Atlantic salmon
fishing licenses. In a recent Green Interview
<http://www.thegreeninterview.com/> , he explains how these methods have won
him the respect of the commercial salmon fisherman whose fishing licenses he
is buying and "retiring." 


While many other conservationist organizations simply want to ban the
commercial salmon fishery, Vigfusson disagrees. "I don't ban," he says. "I
want to negotiate so everyone gets a fair deal." With supporters including
the Prince of Wales and "the most famous banker ever," former U.S. Federal
Reserve chair Paul Volcker, Vigfusson has raised millions to spend on buying
up fishing licenses. His North Atlantic Salmon Fund has negotiated deals
with 5,200 fishermen and netsmen in western Europe and eastern North
America, buying their fishing rights and helping them get established in
other careers.  


"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," he


Those 5,200 people caught roughly 85 per cent of the world's North Atlantic
salmon-fish that now have a chance to recover and reproduce. But Vigfusson
will not 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. 


Orri Vigfusson was raised in a herring-fishing family in Iceland. He
witnessed the collapse of Iceland's herring fishery, which devastated his
community. He grew up to be a highly successful businessman, with interests
in distilling, banking, and tourism. When he saw wild salmon populations
plunging, just as the herring had done, he used his business knowledge to
build alliances, create the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, pressure
governments, and raise money. 


His efforts have also generated millions from the rebirth of a lucrative,
catch-and-release sport salmon fishery. Vigfusson controversially maintains
"everything should be done for profit, because otherwise the operation will
die." He points to Iceland's booming sport salmon fishery, which employs
about 1,200 people and is valued at roughly $150 million. "It's a lot of
money for fishing," he says.


"When I first heard about Orri, I was completely astonished," says Silver
Donald Cameron, host and executive producer of The Green Interview. "His
approach was a total surprise to me-but there's no denying its
effectiveness. And it's inspiring to encounter someone who looks at a huge
international problem and simply decides to deal with it-himself. That's a
bold challenge to the rest of us." 


The Green Interview is a subscription website of extended interviews
produced and directed by Chris Beckett in association with Silver Donald
Cameron. The programs feature some of the world's greatest thinkers, writers
and observers-people whose ideas and perceptions are leading the way to a
new era of sustainability. Visitors to the site can watch one interview free
of charge. In addition, the interviews are available in thousands of
libraries worldwide through GreenR <http://www.gale.cengage.com/greenr/> ,
the environmental database service of Gale Cengage Learning.

For further information about this interview or others at
www.thegreeninterview.com, please contact: Silver Donald Cameron, host and
executive producer, at sdc at silverdonaldcameron.ca or 902-446-5577.





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