ONE of 13 young ambassadors for the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, a celebration of Scottish produce, has helped open the native oyster harvesting season in Stranraer.

Seafood chef Rory Campbell from Portpatrick joined the crew of oyster boat the Vital Spark to land one of the first catches of the season on Loch Ryan ahead of the Stranraer Oyster Festival, which takes place next weekend.

The festival comes during the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, a campaign to make the sector a £30 billion industry by 2030.

The initiative also aims to provide a platform to some of Scotland’s most promising young entrepreneurs, chefs, producers and farmers.

In addition to expertly preparing seafood dishes, Rory also runs Instagram page SeaSalt Harvest, a social media page that celebrates Scottish seafood.

He said: “Loch Ryan oysters are exceptional and having a major oyster festival just a stone’s throw away from the oyster bed itself is fantastic for Stranraer and really helps to put Galloway on the map as a seafood destination.”

The crew of the Vital Spark will now be working daily to help land the 5000 native oysters needed for the festival.

He was joined by Oyster Festival organiser Allana Hardie as well as Adam Wilson, events and young people’s champion for Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Wilson commented: “I’m much more aware now of the provenance of Scottish native oysters and proud that they come from Dumfries and Galloway.

“Festivals and events are a great means of developing this kind of awareness and creating a greater commitment to our environment, health and wellbeing.”

Hardie added: “We were delighted to nominate Rory as a food and drink young ambassador and pleased that he could help us with the start of the oyster harvesting.

“The Stranraer Oyster Festival is about the future of our wee town, recognising that our natural larder, our beautiful landscape and the warmth of our welcome creates a huge opportunity for us to position Stranraer as a food tourism destination.

“Local chefs like Rory are an essential part of that future vision and we are pleased to work with him and others to celebrate our local seafood.”

Loch Ryan is the last remaining native oyster fishery in Scotland. To support the growth of the oyster bed, the fishery return 95% of each catch to the water, gradually dispersing the oysters across the loch in an effort to encourage breeding and support the growth of the oyster bed.

Fiona Richmond, head of regional food at Scotland Food & Drink, said: “In order to reach our ambitious industry targets, we need to work together to promote our industry and what better way to do this than through events such as these, which showcase the wealth of quality produce and the talented producers from across the region.”