Medal of Honor: Fly Fisherman Magazine – February/March 2018


The Anglers’ Club of New York (ACNY), a nonprofit organization established in 1906, honored Orri Vig-fússon with its Medal of Honor for his lifelong devotion to salmon. The Medal of Honor is awarded for service “in the fields of conservation, ichthyology, and the sport of angling,” and has been awarded only 10 times in the club’s 110-year history. ACNY announced the award in March, but Vigfússon died July 1 before the medal could be conferred. Vigfússon’s wife Unnur Kristinsdóttir ac-cepted the award on his behalf in a special ceremony in New York City on October 5, 2017.

Orri Vigfússon founded the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF) in 1989 in response to a precipitous decline in the numbers of wild Atlantic salmon due to the lethal impacts of high-seas commercial netting. A proponent of “green capitalism”—the principle that all wealth depends on the health of natural systems—Vigfússon brokered multimillion-dollar buyouts of salmon quotas from com-mercial fisherman in the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, England, Wales, Ireland, France, and Norway.

At the ceremony, American banker and economist Paul Volcker, with whom Vigfússon had planned a fish-ing trip for July, spoke of the importance of Vigfússon’s work. Chad Pike—an American private equity strategist who has been a significant donor and supporter of NASF—also spoke at the ceremony and said continuous funding is a critical element to the ongoing legacy of Orri Vigfússon. Donations in Vigfússon’s memory should be directed to the Orri Fund in care of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund.