The aquaculture industry in Northern Ireland
The aquaculture industry in Northern Ireland continues to develop. At present there are 80 licenced fish farms (covering 90 sites), of which 48 are licensed for the cultivation of shellfish (47 marine and 1 land-based) and 32 for the cultivation of finfish (30 inland and 2 marine).
The main shellfish species cultivated are mussels (Mytilus edulis) and Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) although a small quantity of Native oysters (Ostrea edulis) are also grown. The main finfish species cultivated are salmon (Salmo salar), rainbow trout (Oncorhyncus mykiss) and brown trout (Salmo trutta).
In 2016 the aquaculture sector produced 3,438 tonnes of shellfish valued at £4.3 million and 1069 tonnes of finfish valued at £4.16 million. In total the aquaculture sector directly employs 91 full time and 78 part time employees.
Under the Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966, Marine & Fisheries Division is responsible for the licensing of fish farms in Northern Ireland. This includes the granting of fish culture licences, shellfish fishery licences and marine fish fishery licences.
Environment, Marine & Fisheries Division is also responsible for authorising all movements of finfish to and from fish farms in Northern Ireland in line with fish culture licence conditions.
We are currently working on a Carry Capacity model (Sustainable Mariculture in Northern Irish Lough Ecosystems (SMILE) which will provide shellfish aquaculture carry capacity predictions for each of the five Northern Ireland sea loughs (Lough Foyle, Larne Lough, Belfast Lough, Strangford Lough and Carlingford Lough). Further information on this project can be found on the SMILE project website.
Queries about aquaculture should be directed to
Mr John McGuigan (DAERA) Tel: 028 44 618044