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Wild Atlantic Salmon

Nature, first prize stories


Fisherman Martin Fadian (72), pulls up his draft net with only one fish to show for two days' work. As wild Atlantic salmon populations falter, salmon farming is on the increase globally, with over 274 million farmed fish present in the world's waters. Pound for pound, more pesticides and antibiotics are used in this than in any other livestock industry, having an impact on both human health and the environment. The waste from a large farm can be equivalent to a town with a population of 50,000 dumping sewage directly into the sea. Diseases and sea lice transfer quickly between fish packed tightly in pens, and many farmed salmon escape into the wild, spreading infection. It is estimated that over 500,000 farmed salmon escape each year in Norway alone. They breed in the wild, ultimately lowering the gene pool of wild salmon. In the US, Atlantic salmon is listed as critically endangered.

Commissioned by: National Geographic

Photo Credit: Paul Nicklen

As a young boy, Paul Nicklen, a Canadian-born polar specialist and marine biologist, moved to Baffin Island and spent his childhood among the Inuit people. From them he learned the love of nature, the understanding of icy ecosystems, and the survival skills that have helped him to become one of the most successful wildlife and nature photojournalists.

As an assignment photographer for National Geographic magazine, Nicklen has produced 16 stories covering a variety of issues related to conservation and natural history—from the slaughter of narwhals to salmon farming to the importance of sea ice and polar ecosystems in this new climate era. Despite the personal peril he often faces while working in some of the planet’s most remote and harsh environments, Nicklen travels constantly in search of meaningful stories that can help touch people’s emotions and help the public connect with Earth’s marine and polar realms.

Nicklen has received more than 20 international awards, six of which were from World Press Photo, including the first prize for nature stories in 2010; three with Pictures of the Year International; and ten with BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year including the grand prize awarded to him in 2012. In 2012, the National Resources Defense Council awarded him the first Biogems Visionary Award, and he also received the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award from his alma mater, the University of Victoria.

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