Celebrating Stranraer’s seafood heritage and the best oysters in the world

An ancient Scottish delicacy beloved by Roman emperors and once a staple diet of ordinary folk is looking to get back on the menu.

  • Full feature in Issue No. 8

A brand new festival celebrating Scotland’s only native oyster fishery is to be held over three days from 15-17 September.

Photograph by: Kim AyresOpening a Loch Ryan Oyster

Organisers of the event, the first of its kind in Scotland, hope that by promoting the legendary food of love consumers will discover a new found fondness for Stranraer and its culinary delights.

Visitors will be encouraged to try the local Loch Ryan Oysters which, according to a local legend, were once declared the “best in the world” by Roman Emperor Julius Caesar.

There will also be plenty of fun-packed family events, art and crafts stalls, pop-up market, competitions, live music and even a spectacular firework display aimed at promoting seafood heritage of south-west Scotland.

Once widespread around the coasts of Scotland the native oyster has almost disappeared from many locations having been harvested to near extinction.

“Food tourism is one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors in the UK, and Stranraer’s heritage means the town is perfectly placed to capitalise on that growing interest in themed food festivals,” said Romano Petrucci, chair of Stranraer Development Trust, the organisation behind the festival.

Local fishermen harvesting native Oysters from Loch Ryan are very careful to manage the stocks in a sustainable way. They only take fully grown oysters and always return the smaller younger ones back to seabed if they get harvested by accident.

Due to the cold water it can take up to eight years for a Loch Ryan oyster to reach maturity giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘slow food’ but ensuring that they remain a true delicacy and well worth the wait.

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