Sustainable aquaculture in Dorset

Sustainable aquaculture is making huge waves in the global food sector and Dorset companies are in a prime position to exploit this growing market, through developing new aquaculture technologies.

Aquaculture is a key UK strategic food-production sector. Dorset is an ideal place to enter the sector and meet the global demand for fish, shellfish and aquatic plants. By developing and deploying aquaculture technologies, companies can exploit the global £338.4 billion aquaculture market opportunity.

Aquaculture fishing equipment


Dorset (South West)

Investment type:

Foreign direct investment


Clean agri-tech

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Sector and market

The UK domestic aquaculture industry is worth an estimated £1.4 billion, creating huge opportunities to increase farming of other fish or shellfish, beyond salmon. The Dorset coastline offers the optimal conditions for aquaculture businesses and technology providers to flourish, including:

  • shallow and sheltered harbours and land-based development opportunities for hatcheries and recirculation systems
  • onshore areas with potential for development of processing facilities
  • excellent water quality and growth conditions – for shellfish especially
  • warm coastal sea water temperatures and calm tidal flows, fostering opportunities to produce a wide variety of fish, shellfish, molluscs and plants

Growth prospects

Seafood purchases in Great Britain are estimated to be worth £4.15 billion, creating an opportunity to meet this demand through growth in sustainable aquaculture.

Dorset boasts a vibrant tourist industry and restaurants with demand for local fresh fish.


The region is perfectly located for easy access to world-class science, a unified supply chain and a dynamic business environment. It is an area rich with natural assets, including an aquaculture friendly coastline and numerous investment locations such as Poole and Portland harbours and Lyme Bay.

The South West has a strong and growing network of more than 200 innovative Agri-tech companies, working with industry, leading academics and R&D institutions.


The rail network connects Dorset to the rest of the UK, and London Waterloo is just 2 hours away.

Bournemouth Airport is receiving major investment for key infrastructure developments and offers domestic and international flights to major cities within the UK, Europe and worldwide.

Dorset’s road network, which is receiving heavy investment, is well connected and allows for direct access to the South West region and beyond.

Three strategically located ports (Poole, Weymouth and Portland) provide valuable supply chain and deployment support for aquaculture projects.

Local talent and skills

There is access to a skilled engineering and marine workforce.

Cutting-edge marine and aquaculture programmes in Dorset and the wider southwest are addressing key industry issues including sustainability, technology, training, supply chains and production.

Research and expertise

The South of England boasts 4 UK marine research and development centres at the University of Southampton, University of Exeter, University of Portsmouth and the University of Plymouth.

Opportunities are available to work with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (Cefas).

There is a ready supply of high calibre science, technology and labour, with industry centred training programmes in higher education institutions and Centres of Scientific Excellence.

Region Spotlight
South of England


The region is home to 21 million people. It offers opportunities across a wide range of sectors from nuclear and aerospace, to life science and new technologies. There are vibrant clusters of expertise spanning 5G, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

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Enabling clean growth

With aquaculture projected to be the prime source of seafood by 2030, the sector is expected to grow faster than the UK economy over the next 10 years.

Growth opportunities exist in sustainable UK aquaculture supply chains by developing and deploying a diverse range of technologies (sensors, automation and engineering) for life support (nutritional feed, health and welfare), farming and processing fish for sale.

Local and national government support

Local councils can provide recruitment and training, financing and potentially reduced business rates for investors.

The following partnerships are available to offer support for the aquaculture industry’s needs:

  • Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Dorset and East Devon Aquaculture
  • Cefas
  • Dorset Coast Forum

Support is also available from the Seafood 2040 strategic framework, which provides recommendations for a sustainable and thriving seafood industry.

Success stories

Dorset Cleanerfish

Dorset Cleanerfish Ltd, owned and operated by MOWI, the largest salmon farming company in the world, has been producing lumpfish since 2013.

With production units in Portland Port and Castletown, the company produces 750,000 fish per year.

Othniel Oysters

Othniel Oysters Ltd leases 51 hectares of shellfish beds in Poole Harbour to farm pacific oysters.

Up to 3 million oysters are harvested per year, about 400 tonnes, with 30% sold either locally or in the wider UK market.

Offshore Shellfish

Offshore Shellfish Ltd is developing the UK’s first large-scale offshore rope-cultured mussel farm. The development will eventually be the largest of its type in European waters.

The 3 sites will cover a total area of 15.4 km2 and produce up to 10,000 tonnes per year once fully developed.

Other opportunities