Obituary Hans-Jürgen Schlotfeldt



17th September 1938 – 29th December 2022

We are very sad to report the death of our Honorary Member H.-J. Schlotfeldt, who passed away on the 29th of December 2022 at the age of 84.

H.-J. was one of the founding fathers of the EAFP in 1979. He held the functions of the General Secretary from 1979 – 1991 and of the President from 1991 – 2001 with dedicated passion and commitment to our association. After 22 years of outstanding services in the Council he was appointed as Honorary Member at the 10th International EAFP conference in Dublin 2001. He was one of the internationally accepted pioneers in veterinary ichthyopathology and fish health management in Europe.

H.-J. was born in 1938 in Talcahuano, Chile and was of Chilean/German citizenship with German/Russian roots. He finished the study of veterinary medicine in 1961 at the Chilean State University in Santiago and started to work as scientific assistant for comparative anatomy and animal physiology, then as associated professor for veterinary therapeutics. In 1964 he began working as researcher at the Chilean Fisheries Development Institute in Santiago, which was the beginning of his passion for fish diseases and aquaculture.

In 1967 the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) granted him a 2-years fellowship at the German Fisheries Research Centre in Hamburg, where he did practical fish farming trainings as well as fish disease research work with stays in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Austria, France and Italy. In parallel H.-J. was active as a consultant for the Chilean government in various inland fisheries, aquaculture and water research projects. A fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 1971 resulted in his German DVM graduation in 1972. He then started his work as scientific assistant at the Institute of Virology at the School of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover. Diagnostics of viral diseases of salmonids were his main research field, resulting in the first graduation of a “Veterinarian specialised in Fish Diseases and Aquaculture” in Germany in 1973. In the following years H.-J.´s focus turned more and more to practical diagnoses and therapy, designing, and establishing a fish health service and fish farming advice in Lower Saxony. From 1976 till 2004 H.-J. filled the position of the Head of the Fish Health Service of the Ministry of Agriculture of Lower Saxony. In 1979 his dream came true: the foundation of the State Fish Epidemics Control Service of Lower Saxony. After retiring from government services in 2004 he continued to work as a senior Fish Health Consultant.

Having an international background and being multilingual (Spanish and German as native languages, English and French fluently) H.-J. always had his focus on an international agenda. Since 1975 he had numerous international teaching assignments, among others in Turkey, Cyprus, Canada, Japan, Peru, Brazil and of course in Chile. H.-J.´s expertise was also highly welcomed in the EU to develop a legislation for the control of the mainly epizootic fish diseases at Community level. 1988 he got appointed by the EU-Commission, Brussels, as a member of the Commission´s Experts Group – Fish Health, Fish Diseases and Aquaculture – and also as member of the Commission´s Standing Veterinary Committee. So, he actively could participate in the emergence of the Council Directive 1991/67/EEC of 28 January 1991 concerning the animal health conditions governing the placing on the market of aquaculture animal products, as well as the reviewing and rewriting of it, which led to the Council Directive 2006/88/EC of 24 October 2006 on animal health requirements for aquaculture animals and products thereof and on the prevention and control of certain diseases in aquatic animals. H.-J. left the Expert Group in 2008. He also always supported the Community Reference Laboratory for Fish Diseases placed in Aarhus, Denmark and participated actively in all the CRL Annual Meetings and workshops until his retirement in 2004.

Over the course of his career H.-J. did 137 publications in 3 different languages and spoke publicly at many conferences and workshops all over the world. His book on fundamentals of fish pathology, originally published by R. J. Roberts in 1978, became in its edited German translation from 1985 a classic for the German speaking fish pathologists. Let us also not to forget the legendary EAFP booklet “What should I do? A Practical Guide for the Freshwater Farmer” from 1995, edited together with D. J. Alderman, as the first supplement to the EAFP Bulletin.

The fields of H.-J.´s interests were very broad, especially on history. He was like a living lexicon in these regards, his knowledge on European history was breathtaking. He was also very fascinated by operas and their singers. And not to forget his dedicated love for his Siamese cats.

With “Schani”, as we Austrian colleagues addressed to H.-J., we lost a very distinguished, open minded and inquisitive personality. He was a pioneer and internationally acting colleague and friend, living his scientific profession with passion and curiosity, a bedrock of the EAFP!

Farewell dear Schani, vale!

H.-J. was a committed family man and our thoughts at this time are with his wife Irmgard and their children Vera and Alexej.

Oliver Hochwartner, Vienna, February 2023