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Stirling shows off historic strain of Howietoun trout at World Fisheries Congress

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Howietoun brown trout
Howietoun brown trout

The University of Stirling will show off its strain of world renowned brown trout in a live display at their stand at the World Fisheries Congress in Edinburgh from 8 to 11 May.

The historic blood line of brown trout comes from the Howietoun fish farm, established by the global authority on raising trout, Sir James Ramsey Gibson Maitland, in the late 19th century. Maitland developed the blood line from 1873, exporting the eggs all over the world, including New Zealand, the USA and Newfoundland.

Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture bought Howietoun in 1979, inheriting the fish descended from the original blood lines developed by Maitland.

The Institute’s Fishery Manager, Iain Semple, says: “From 1881, Howietoun was the foremost producer of re-stocking quality brown trout and eggs.  From 1980 Howietoun also developed a market for supplying salmon smolts for the rapidly expanding salmon farming industry in Scotland.”

“Salmon farming at that time was relatively small, with a large number of small producers living the dream producing fish in some of the most strikingly beautiful, remote corners of north west Scotland. Few people envisaged the multi-million pound international industry it was to become.”

But these important strains of fish were nearly lost in a catastrophic blue green algae bloom which came down from the feeder loch to the fish farm in 2011. “I could see that the fish were distressed,” says Iain. “They were trying to get out of the water and we had nowhere else to put so many of them. By the following morning, the ponds were eerily quiet. We managed to save 120 adult fish and lost 211,000 fry and growing fish.”

Such is the reputation of Howietoun that customers from all over Scotland offered to help restock Howietoun with eggs from fish which had been bred there. Howietoun now has 80,000 fry ready to go into growing ponds and will be back to full production in 2014.

The brown trout which will be on view at the World Fisheries Congress are descended from original strains developed by Sir James Maitland.

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