John­nie Stans­feld


Fish Farmer - - Contents - Editor’s Welcome - BY NICK JOY

ONE of the stal­warts of our in­dus­try has died, aged 84. John­nie Stans­feld was in­volved in the ad­vent of both rain­bow trout, salmon and mussel farm­ing from the ear­li­est stages of our in­dus­tries. He was a vi­sion­ary who un­der­stood that the old ways of wild salmon were out­moded and un­likely to con­tinue. He had seen the heady days of wild salmon net­ting and an­gling in the late 60s and un­der­stood that this would not con­tinue.

He was a man of quiet de­ter­mi­na­tion and fierce in­tel­li­gence. Hav­ing been steeped in salmon fish­ing from an early age, when he spoke about it he was well worth lis­ten­ing to.

In 1959, he fol­lowed his fa­ther into the salmon fish­ing com­pany, Joseph John­ston and Sons (JJS), which was re­spon­si­ble for de­vel­op­ing the fish­eries on the North Esk. JJS had a rep­u­ta­tion for re­search­ing the pop­u­la­tion dy­nam­ics of the At­lantic salmon, mak­ing the North Esk the most re­searched river pos­si­bly in the world and for many years the most sta­ble fish­ery in the UK.

In 1961, JJS, which had a rep­u­ta­tion for in­no­va­tion and river im­prove­ment, be­came in­ter­ested in hatch­eries as a fish­eries man­age­ment tool. One was con­structed at Brechin.

In the years ahead, John­nie over­saw the com­pany’s move from wild salmon net­ting on the east coast to salmon farm­ing on the west coast, at Scourie in Suther­land. The op­er­a­tion lives on as Loch Duart, formed by for­mer em­ploy­ees (me in­cluded) who bought the fish farm in 1999.

It was John­nie who drove the for­ma­tion, with his fel­low pi­o­neer­ing farm­ers, of the Scot­tish As­so­ci­a­tion of Fish Farm­ers in 1971.

Joseph John­ston and Sons has left our in­dus­try but it was one of the first pi­o­neers in salmon farm­ing, to a large de­gree driven by John­nie’s think­ing and vi­sion. This is not to say that he avoided dif­fi­cult is­sues. Dur­ing his ca­reer he was in­volved in the sci­en­tific work and cam­paign to con­trol the grey seal num­bers, and af­ter that the con­flict with the drift net­ters in the North Sea.

On both oc­ca­sions he was closely in­volved in the re­search and im­ple­men­ta­tion, re­sult­ing in law, which sig­nif­i­cantly changed the play­ing field.

He pub­lished a pa­per on the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween farmed and wild salmon in the mar­ket­place in 1986 and wrote many other doc­u­ments and books.

He re­ceived his MBE for work with the young peo­ple of Mon­trose, con­tin­u­ing his en­cour­age­ment of peo­ple, some­thing that he had ex­hib­ited dur­ing his work­ing life.

The salmon in­dus­try will be the lesser for the loss of one who bridged the di­vide be­tween wild and farmed salmon in­ter­ests so el­e­gantly, re­source­fully and with a very clear view of the re­al­i­ties.

Joseph John­ston and Sons was the only com­pany glob­ally that had two feet planted squarely in two very dif­fer­ent and of­ten con­flicted camps. Its abil­ity to nav­i­gate these dif­fi­cult days in the 90s were largely down to John­nie.

He may have been an enor­mous force in the cre­ation and early de­vel­op­ment of our in­dus­try but his great­est pride was his house, Dun­ni­nald, and its en­vi­rons, and his fam­ily, to whom our thoughts go out. He leaves be­hind his wife Ros­alinde, his three sons and six grand­chil­dren.

I could write about the fact that he al­ways went to sea on each of his vis­its, even though his hip was hurt­ing him, or that he told me that he be­lieved you should speak with and say good­bye to ev­ery mem­ber of staff on a group of

pens. This has be­come some­thing I have tried to do ever since he men­tioned it to me.

I con­sider my­self lucky to have have known and worked with him.

John (John­nie) Stans­feld MBE DL, born in Lon­don, Jan­uary 15, 1935, died in Mon­trose, March 17, 2019.

“His was the only com­pany that had two feet planted camps” squarely in two very dif­fer­ent and of­ten con­flicted

Above: John­nie Stans­feld Left: The ar­ti­cle is from 1971

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