Our Oyster Legacy
For more than three hundred years Loch Ryan's oyster bed has been protected by Royal Charter.
Granted by King William of Orange to the Wallace family, who still live on the banks of the loch, the charter dates back to 1701. It's thought to be one of the reasons why Loch Ryan's native oysters have thrived, while other native oyster beds around the UK have been catastrophically over-fished.
The oyster harvesting season begins at the start of September, and Stranraer Oyster Festival marks the beginning! From April, fishing stops and the beds are left undisturbed during the summer breeding season. This means that native oysters are a seasonal product, available to buy between September and April each year.
This is the only oyster bed in Scotland that is self-sufficient. It's sustainably managed by the Loch Ryan Oyster Company and the crew of the Vital Spark. On average, the crew harvest around 2,000 oysters per day, but to find them they have to sift through 40,000 smaller ones! The small oysters are the future of the bed and are re-laid into well marked beds.
King William III, grants a Royal Charter of the oyster bed to the Wallace family. To this day, the family live on the shores of the loch, and the rights to the oysters bed still belong to them.
Tristan and David Hugh-Jones begin growing oysters in Cork, Ireland, which is probably the only place in Europe that has successfully bred the Native Oyster. Tristan is a well-known figure in the oyster world, sitting on the management committee of the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers and is past chairman of the mollusc committee of Shellfish Association of Great Britain.
Tristan and David Hugh-Jones are asked by Ben and Malcolm Wallace to help manage the oyster bed, due to their experience and extensive knowledge of breeding.
After 150 years of service, the ferries between Stranraer and Ireland stop running. This is a devastating blow for the community and local businesses.
Stranraer Development Trust is formed by a group of locals concerned about the economic downturn of the town. The Trust's objective is to address sustainable regeneration of the local community.
The first ever Stranraer Oyster Festival is held to showcase our local produce and help put Stranraer back on the map as a popular tourist location. It becomes a major event in the region's annual event calendar.
Stranraer Oyster Festival is held for the second time
Stranraer Oyster Festival 2019 is held
Stranraer Oyster Festival is paused due to COVID-19.
Stranraer Oyster Festival returns after a 2 year break, with increased visitor numbers and increased local economic impact.
We proudly hosted the 5th Stranraer Oyster Festival
Plans are underway for the next edition of Stranraer Oyster Festival 2024
Fishing for oysters at Loch Ryan