Aquaculture is the practice of farming marine populations of fish, seaweed, molluscs, plants, and other organisms. Doing so helps supply industries with product in a reasonably reliable way, by farming that species/plant etc in controlled conditions as opposed to commercial fishing or gathering in the wider marine and coastal environments, and inland waters.

This overview of the active aquaculture industry does not include installations which are based inland, only those which are within the area covered by Solway Firth Partnership.

As mentioned in the overview for the Productive chapter introduction of the Solway Review, this section is populated with data and information from the Socio-economic Assessment’s for the Scottish (SEASS), and English Solway (SEAES), which are two separate projects completed in 2020. Text below will be predominantly directly from the SEASS or SEAES Reports but is altered at times. These reports are available here. These socio-economic reports were needed in light of the changing face of socio-economic aspects impacting the Solway Firth, and also for the purpose of populating the productive section of the Solway Review. Text from the SEASS and SEAES reports is not referenced individually.


Image; Native oyster. © E. Baruah


Aquaculture in the Scottish Solway

The Scottish Solway sees little activity from the aquaculture industry, with the majority of Scottish aquaculture production seen in the on the west coast further north than the Solway Firth.

There is little marine aquaculture along the Scottish Solway Coast, with a total of ten people employed in the industry in 2018.

The most notable aquaculture site in the region is the Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery Company Ltd which produces high quality native oysters (Ostrea edulis). The contribution of this company goes beyond aquaculture providing the produce for the Stranraer Oyster Festival, which provides a tourist attraction and yearly boost to the local economy in Stranraer. Oyster rights in Loch Ryan have were first given to the Wallace family in 1701 and  still remain with the family, who work in partnership with The Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery Company Ltd.

The economic contribution of the aquaculture sector is measured through the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code (Office for National Statistics, 2007): 03.21 Marine Aquaculture.

Aquaculture Change in Activity, 2014 – 2018 (Other economic data suppressed)
Indicator Change
Employment -33%

All of the aquaculture producers in Dumfries & Galloway are small scale ‘artisan’ producers, only employing a small number. The production statistics are supressed to retain commercial confidentiality.

The main sites include:

  • the Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery – a native oyster farm located in Loch Ryan. Oysters harvested from this farm are a premium products which fetch high prices in high quality London restaurants. They also provide the centrepiece of the Stranraer Oyster Festival (discussed in Sport, recreation, and tourism);
  • Torhouse Trout Farm near Wigtown; and
  • Scottish Sea Farms’ freshwater hatchery – this site produces eggs for input into the wider Scottish Salmon Aquaculture Industry. AquaGen bought this hatchery in Holywood in 2019 (Fish Farming Expert, 2019).


Image; Scotland’s National Marine Plan Interactive, with layers (links will provide usage licence, data provider, etc); ‘Solway Region (mask)‘ © Crown Copyright, All rights reserved, ‘Aquaculture – Active finfish sites‘ © Crown Copyright, All rights reserved, ‘Aquaculture – Active shellfish sites‘ © Crown Copyright, All rights reserved.


Contribution to the Economy

There is a low level of employment in the Marine Aquaculture sector on the Scottish Solway Coast which has been a downward trend, see figure below, ‘Scottish Solway: Marine Aquaculture Employment, 2009 – 2018’.

Scottish Solway: Marine Aquaculture Employment, 2009 - 2018

Scottish Solway: Marine Aquaculture Employment, 2009 – 2018 (Source: Office for National Statistics (Various) (BRES))


Location Quotients (please see the Productive overview for an explanation of Location Quotients) are low, which reflects the low levels of activity in Dumfries & Galloway. The declining Location Quotient in recent years is reflective of the declining employment in the region contrasted with rising employment across Scotland, see figure below, ‘Scottish Solway: Marine Aquaculture Location Quotients, 2009 – 2018’.

Scottish Solway: Marine Aquaculture Location Quotients, 2009 – 2018

Scottish Solway: Marine Aquaculture Location Quotients, 2009 – 2018 (Source: Office for National Statistics (Various) (BRES))


Economic Output – Turnover and GVA

Due to the small scale of the sector, the turnover and GVA figures are suppressed and unavailable.


Image; The Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery Company Ltd © Solway Firth Partnership. Photographer; Colin Tennant


Pressures and Impacts

An assessment of the socio-economic and environmental pressures and impacts of the aquaculture sector is provided below. Please note that aquaculture sector is subject to robust monitoring and legislation implemented by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to minimise adverse impacts on the environment, including water quality (Scottish Environment Protection Agency, n.d.).

Positive Negative
•   Contributes to key sector growth – food and drink

•   Supports rural communities – retaining jobs and wages

•   Supports local tourist industry through the Stranraer Oyster Festival

•   Visual Impacts to seascape which are considered valuable for tourism and local wellbeing
Pressure theme Pressure Impact
  •   No direct adverse impacts identified


Image; Oysters. © Solway Firth Partnership. Photographer; Colin Tennant


Regional Look Forward

Aquaculture is a small-scale industry in Dumfries & Galloway which is unlikely to grow significantly in the near future. There have however been some recent enquiries into the possibility of seaweed harvesting and growing on the Solway Firth. However, these are early stage enquiries and little is known about the scale of the proposals.

The area and sector could see some growth in the Stranraer Oyster Festival to which the Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery provides stock. The festival has attracted growing audiences in recent years, with 17,000 visitors and an economic impact of £1.6m in 2019, with local oysters providing the main selling point for the event.

The organisers are confident in the future of the event, with Loch Ryan oysters likely to draw in visitors from outwith Dumfries & Galloway for many years in future.


Image; The Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery Company Ltd. © Solway Firth Partnership. Photographer; Colin Tennant


Aquaculture in the English Solway

There is currently no marine aquaculture facilities in the English portion of the Solway Firth. Previous farms include;

  • Solway Marine Oysters at Silloth. Non-native Oyster Farm, closed (company dissolved 2017).
  • According to Solway Firth Partnership there was also ‘an aquaculture trial consisting of 5 full Boddington systems for oyster cultivation and 4 Bouchot systems for mussel cultivation taking place at Cardurnock by South Solway Shellfisheries Ltd’ around 2006 (Solway Firth Partnership, 2018).


Image; Silloth. © Solway Firth Partnership



Baxter, J.M., Boyd, I.L., Cox, M., Donald, A.E., Malcolm, S.J., Miles, H., Miller, B., Moffat, C.F., (Editors), (2011). Scotland’s Marine Atlas: Information for the national marine plan. Marine Scotland, Edinburgh. pp 191. Available here. (Accessed 22.07.19)

Marine Management Organisation. (n.d). Marine Planning Evidence Base. Available here. (Accessed: 14.05.18)

Marine Scotland (n.d.). Scotland’s National Marine Plan Interactive. Available here. (Accessed: 06.08.19)

Mills, F., Sheridan, S. and Brown S., (2017). Clyde Marine Region Assessment. Clyde Marine Planning Partnership. pp 231, Available here. (Accessed: 14.05.18)

Office for National Statistics (Various) Annual Business Survey (ABS): custom data request from the ONS & Public data. Available here. (Accessed: 28.07.20)

Scottish Government (2019) Scottish Annual Business Statistics 2017 (SABS). Available here. (Accessed: 28.07.20)


In-Text References;

Fish Farming Expert (2019) AquaGen buys Dumfries hatchery from Scottish Sea Farms for broodstock site. Available here. (Accessed: 20.08.20)

Office for National Statistics (Various) Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES). Available here. (Accessed: 28.07.20)

Office for National Statistics (2007). Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities. Available here. (Accessed: 22.07.20)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (n.d.) Aquaculture. Available here. (Accessed: 20.08.20)

Solway Firth Partnership (2018) Marine Invasive Non- Native Species in the Solway Firth, Revised for 2018 – 2021. Available here. (Accessed: 04.05.20)


Image; Oyster Fishing. © Solway Firth Partnership. Photographer; Colin Tennant