Pacific Salmon Foundation

Pacific Salmon Foundation

November 19, 2010 14:10 ET

Pacific Salmon Foundation: Ontario Artist Wins Salmon Conservation Art Contest

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 19, 2010) - An Ontario artist has won the honour of having his painting of a Chinook salmon appear on the federal fishing license decal required to keep Pacific salmon caught in saltwater off Canada's west coast. Known as the salmon conservation stamp, anglers must buy the $6.30 postage stamp sized decal annually, and each year a new image for the decal is selected through a contest run by the Vancouver-based Pacific Salmon Foundation.

Curtis Atwater's painting, entitled A Moment of Action-Chinook Salmon, won the contest following several rounds of balloting by judges on November 17 in Vancouver. Atwater, who lives in Caledon East, Ontario won the contest previously in 1991. An avid fisherman, the artist said most of the inspiration for his paintings came from experiences on the water. Atwater's paintings have been featured in a variety of outdoor magazines and he is a member of Artists for Conservation Foundation.

"I have found inspiration for my painting during fishing trips all across Canada, but fishing for salmon in British Columbia has always been an especially inspiring experience," said Atwater. "Salmon are iconic on the west coast of Canada, so I feel privileged to have my work appear on the salmon conservation stamp, and proud to know my work will help support salmon conservation."

Since 1989, some of the money generated through sales of the salmon conservation stamp has been directed back to the Pacific Salmon Foundation by the federal government in support of salmon conservation projects. The foundation's president, Dr. Brian Riddell, said $5.8 million of stamp revenue had been directed to 1,185 community projects since 1991. He said it was part of more than $8.5 million granted by the foundation's Community Salmon Program.

"The salmon conservation stamp is a very important funding source for wild Pacific salmon conservation and serves as a visible reminder to people who catch salmon that it is a precious natural resource," said Riddell. "We all benefit from wild Pacific salmon and it is up to us to help create a sustainable future for salmon and to protect and restore habitat they depend on."

Salmon conservation stamp revenue represented about half of the $700,000 in grants made by the foundation this year to more than 100 community salmon projects, Riddell said. But, he added that only half of the qualified grant applications were able to be funded, which he said emphasized the need for additional support from individuals and businesses that care about salmon conservation.

A panel of 11 judges evaluated the original paintings submitted by 13 artists. Ten of the artists were from British Columbia, two from Ontario and one from Minnesota. Contest rules required that the main subject of submissions be any of the seven species of Pacific salmon found in B.C. waters – Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Chum, Pink, Steelhead and Cutthroat. Submissions included realistic depictions of salmon in their natural environments and stylized works that drew on cultural elements associated with the iconic species.

John Espley of Victoria, who served as one of the judges, said selecting the winner was very difficult and took four rounds of deliberations. Espley, business development manager for Accent Inns and the hotel chain's Fish for the Future campaign, said the job was made challenging because of the high quality of the paintings and the various styles represented.

"I wish everyone in the general public could see all these paintings side by side, because they represented a variety of Pacific salmon species and the range of environments they inhabit," said Espley. "I suspect many people have no idea that there are seven unique species of Pacific salmon nor understand the distinct role the species play in the environment."

In addition to Espley the other judges were Brian Alexander, West Coast Resorts; Robert Clark, C Restaurant; Lisa Cuthbert, West Coast Resorts; Roanne and Roy Dunbar of Seattle, Washington; Bernie Hanby, underwater photographer; Lex Hedley, Vancouver artist; George Illes, Powell River Salmon Society; Don McLeod, Canfisco; and Dave Owen, BC Outdoors Magazine. The winner was announced by Hubert Wat, vice president for marketing with Rocky Mountaineer Vacations, a major business supporter of wild Pacific salmon conservation through the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

Note to News Media: A digital image of the winning image is attached.

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