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.
The University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture bought the farm 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.