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Armstrong artist reels in salmon foundation contest top prize

Dale Cooper’s painting of Chinook salmon chasing after herring will be featured on stamp
Armstrong’s Dale Cooper is the winner of the 2023 Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Stamp Art Competition, for his painting of a pair of Chinook salmon chasing after some herring. (PSF photo)

An Armstrong artist has licked his stamp art competition.

Dale Cooper has the winning entry out of 19 in the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s (PSF) annual Salmon Conservation Stamp Art competition.

Cooper was award first place with an acrylic painting titled Pursuit, showing a pair of Chinook salmon pursuing a school of herring. His image will be featured on the 2024-25 Salmon Conservation Stamp, a required purchase for anglers to retain any Pacific salmon caught in B.C.’s marine environment.

The proceeds from the stamp sales fund hundreds of salmon conservation projects every year.

Cooper – who was commissioned 10 years ago to create a painting for Armstrong’s centennial in 2013 – is a first-time winner of the Salmon Stamp Art Competition. A veteran sports illustrator and fine artists, he has taken part in the competition several times, with his first salmon painting earning him third place in 1998.

“Outside of sports, I’ve always painted B.C. wildlife, and I’ve painted a lot of salmon,” said Cooper. “I’m very pleased to finally win this year — and right before the holidays, too.”

Cooper was born in Portage la Prairie, Man. and now resides in Armstrong with his wife and children. After working for the City of Burnaby’s sanitation department, he enrolled in the Graphics and Visual Design program at Kwantlen College in 1981 to become a full-time artist.

The artist credits his memories of working at a salmon cannery in Steveston, near Richmond, fishing trips, and salmon runs in the Adams River as inspiration.

“With this painting, I wanted to do something that was really relevant to their environment,” said Cooper. “Kelp just seemed to fit, and chasing the herring is part of what salmon do. I wanted the salmon to look healthy.”

The Salmon Conservation Stamp is a decal that must be purchased annually by anglers and affixed to their saltwater fishing license to retain any species of Pacific salmon.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of recreational anglers support Pacific salmon conservation by purchasing the $6.46 Salmon Stamp. Through a landmark agreement in 1989, the revenue from these stamps is directed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to the foundation.

“The Pacific Salmon Conservation Stamp represents an important collaboration between the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the sport fishing community,” said Diane Lebouthillier, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard. “It recognizes the paramount significance of preserving iconic Pacific Salmon populations and their habitats for generations to come.”

The PSF grants up to $2 million annually to more than 200 community-led projects.

An annual Salmon Conservation Stamp, valid between April 1 and March 31 of each fishing season, can be purchased at or through an independent access provider.

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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