His­toric Howi­etoun fish farm for sale

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SCOT­LAND’S first fish farm site has been put up for sale, along with its ponds and out­build­ings, set in about 27 acres in Stir­ling.

His­toric Howi­etoun Fish­ery was es­tab­lished in the late 19th cen­tury by Sir James Mait­land – de­scribed as the fa­ther of sci­en­tific aqua­cul­ture – on his es­tate near Sauchieburn.

In the 1870s, Sir James pi­o­neered sci­en­tific tri­als into trout breed­ing and rear­ing to cre­ate what be­came an in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned fish­ery.

At nearby Milnholm, fish were bred in the hatch­ery and reared in the nu­mer­ous ponds at Howi­etoun, with Sir James set­ting the stan­dard for mod­ern fish farm­ing.

This part of the farm, which in­cludes one of the old­est com­mer­cial hatch­eries in Europe, is now be­ing leased by Aqual­ife.

The Uni­ver­sity of Stir­ling’s In­sti­tute of Aqua­cul­ture bought Howi­etoun in 1979 and used it for the prac­ti­cal train­ing of British and in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in mod­ern aqua­cul­ture tech­niques, as well as op­er­at­ing on a

small com­mer­cial ba­sis. But in re­cent years the uni­ver­sity stopped us­ing the fa­cil­i­ties.

The cat­e­gory-A listed fish­ery, be­ing sold through Bell In­gram, in­cludes a se­ries of now re­dun­dant fish ponds, chan­nels and cul­verts, in­clud­ing a brood­stock pond on which sits Sir James’s sum­mer house.

He would climb on to its roof and watch the farm from his el­e­vated po­si­tion, as well as ob­serv­ing fish un­der­wa­ter from a glass cylin­der from the cen­tre of the sum­mer house.

Ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle about Howi­etoun, pub­lished on the web­site of Sepa (the Scot­tish En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Agency) in 2012, the site is fed with wa­ter from Loch Coul­ter via the Can­glour Burn and fea­tures ter­races of ponds built with link­ing chan­nels de­signed to pre­vent sil­ta­tion and pro­vide suf­fi­cient aer­a­tion of wa­ter.

Sci­en­tist Iain Sem­ple, who ran the fish­ery for many years, was quoted say­ing: ‘Us­ing these ponds in a sus­tain­able way is why these ponds are still func­tion­ing.

‘The process here is very, very nat­u­ral. We’ve learnt over the years that we have to work within the con­straints of the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment.’

The In­sti­tute of Aqua­cul­ture was awarded £17 mil­lion in the re­cent Stir­ling city deal to re­de­velop its cam­pus and its other fa­cil­i­ties, which in­clude fresh­wa­ter and ma­rine units at Buck­ieburn and Machri­han­ish.

Above: Howi­etoun Fish­ery

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