The fisheries are extensive, and though there are no ports of the first magnitude on the firth, a considerable shipping trade is carried on at Whitehaven, Harrington, Workington, Maryport and Silloth in Cumberland, and at Annan, Kirkcudbright, Creetown and Wigtown on the Scottish side.
Whitehaven (Witofthaven) was an insignificant possession of the priory of St Bee which became crown property at the dissolution of the religious houses.
Since the Reform Act of 1832 Whitehaven has returned one representative to parliament.
Whitehaven coal was sent chiefly to Ireland in the 18th century.
In 1892 Maryport became an independent port with Workington, Whitehaven and Millom subordinate to it.