Chris Verbiski named 2019 Lee Wulff award winner

Newfoundland and Labrador native recognized for unique salmon conservation work
Nov 13, 2019
NEW YORK – The trailblazing angler and outfitter Chris Verbiski was honoured in New York City last night with the Lee Wulff Salmon Conservation Award. Given annually by the Atlantic Salmon Federation since 1987, the Lee Wulff award recognizes people who have made outstanding contributions at the regional and national level.

Originally from Newfoundland and Labrador, Verbiski rose to prominence following the 1993 discovery of the Voisey’s Bay nickel and copper deposit just south of the community of Nain, Labrador.

Always a passionate angler, Verbiski went on to establish the Atlantic Rivers Outfitting Company (AROC), which he currently owns and operates. AROC maintains commercial lodges on the Hunt and St. Lewis rivers in Labrador. In addition to educating visitors from around the world about the precious Atlantic salmon rivers in the region, Verbiski dedicates time and resources to scientific research and habitat enhancement to ensure a bright future for Labrador salmon.

“The rivers of Labrador are among the healthiest and least understood in the world,” said Atlantic Salmon Federation President Bill Taylor. “Chris has truly developed a model for public-private cooperation and in doing so has contributed significantly to our understanding of Atlantic salmon in a changing world.”

In 2014, AROC initiated a partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to track wild Atlantic salmon over several years in the St. Lewis River. This work has revealed the timing of migration, important overwintering habitat, and several partial and complete natural barriers to fish passage.

Based on these results, AROC is working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to construct a privately funded fishway on the St. Lewis River which would give Atlantic salmon access to the upper reaches of the fifth largest Atlantic salmon ecosystem in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Similar tracking work, in collaboration with DFO, has been initiated at several other sites in southern and northern Labrador.

AROC lodges have had a live release policy for guests since 2012, and over the last three seasons Verbiski has funded research into the post release condition of fish, taking into account environmental factors such as water temperature. The study will be used to refine best practices for live release, further reducing the impact of recreational angling for salmon throughout the North Atlantic.

In a region with approximately 300 known Atlantic salmon rivers and only four DFO-run assessment sites, all in the southern Labrador, Verbiski is preparing to install a state-of-the-art sonar counting system on the Hunt River in 2020. It will be the only salmon assessment site in Canada north of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Verbiski’s passion for salmon also extends to Europe, where he owns LOOP, the Swedish fly-fishing tackle and technical garment company. Through LOOP, Verbiski supports a number of salmon conservation NGOs in Europe and North America. The company regularly works with scientists, river trusts and boards, river owners, lodge owners, and anglers throughout Iceland, Scandinavia, Russia, the UK, and Atlantic Canada.

“Chris’s contributions to wild Atlantic salmon speak directly to the passion he and his family have for this incredible species,” said Bill Taylor. “We know that government can’t do it all. NGOs and private companies have to contribute positively to secure a bright future for wild Atlantic salmon. Chris’s work is a model for others to follow.”

The Lee Wulff Salmon Conservation Award was handed out last night in New York City, where Atlantic Salmon Federation directors from Canada and the United States are gathered for annual meetings discussing the latest in salmon research and conservation.

-30-

For more information contact:
Neville Crabbe
– ASF communications
(506) 467-6804
ncrabbe@asf.ca


The Lee Wulff Salmon Conservation Award is named in honour of Lee Wulff, the prolific angler, author, and conservationist. In the 1930s, Wulff started releasing some of the salmon he angled, helping kickstart a practice that is used for conservation around the world today. In the 1960s he produced a documentary film on the Greenland salmon fishery, drawing the world’s attention to an industry that was killing hundreds of thousands of fish from North American and Europe every year.


For a list of past recipients of the Lee Wulff Salmon Conservation Award please visit: https://www.asf.ca/about-asf/scholarships-and-awards

The Atlantic Salmon Federation was founded in 1948 to conserve, protect, and restore wild Atlantic salmon and their ecosystems. For more information visit www.asf.ca

More Posts

November 8, 2019
October 16, 2019
October 3, 2019
September 10, 2019