Crustacean Mortality in Teesside

Motion passed yesterday on Crustacean mortality

Img: BBC News

Motion by Cllr Carl Quartermain
Seconded by Cllr Phillip Thompson

“Redcar & Cleveland Council believes that much more needs to be done to investigate the reasons for the mass death of sea creatures found on our coast in the latter part of 2021 and more recently.

“Redcar & Cleveland Council also believes much more support should be given to our local fishing industry which has been adversely affected by the consequent radical reduction in fishing stock.

“Since October last year dead crustaceans have been found on our beaches along with, the possibly associated, deaths of seal pups and porpoises. The report by the Government “Joint Agency Investigation into “Teesside & Yorkshire Coast Crab and Lobster Mortalities” was published in May 2022 and concluded that as healthy crabs and lobsters were now being found, the investigation was closed.

“Redcar & Cleveland Council believes:

  1. “The decision to close the investigation was premature and demands that the Government re-open it as a matter of urgency to consider why the crustacean deaths continue.
  2. “The Tees Valley local authorities should work together in expressing concern to central government and commission a new independent report in the light of the inconclusive evidence. In addition, the ongoing situation should be monitored by a special Scrutiny Committee from each local authority.
  3. “That the Government proposal to give support to the local fishing industry via the existing Seafood Fund is inadequate and calls on them to provide proper compensation for the lost income and livelihoods caused by this crisis.
  4. That the possibility of creating a coastal hatchery to replenish crustacean stocks should be investigated.”

My Statement to Full Council:

“The Defra report of May this year states that – Between October and December 2021, dead and dying crabs and lobsters were washed ashore in unusually high numbers along parts of the north-east coast.

“Animals displayed ‘twitching’ and lethargic behaviour as well as an inability to self-right. Crabs and lobsters appeared to be predominantly affected in large numbers.

“A multi-agency investigation involving the Environment Agency, Cefas, the North-East Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NEIFCA), the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) concluded in March 2022.

“The potential causes they determined included licensed dredging activity, chemical contamination, activities relating to offshore windfarms, and the presence of algal blooms and aquatic animal disease.

“No single causation was identified however, a harmful algal bloom was identified as of significance, in their words – “confirming that animals had been exposed to algal toxins but in the context of the mortality event, it was not YET fully understood”.

“The investigation was closed by DEFRA in March 2022 and subsequently came in for a lot of criticism from environmentalist and the fishing industry for not being thorough enough, for ending prematurely, whereby further unexplained crab and lobster mortality have occurred as well as die offs including fish, seaweed, seals and porpoises have continued and because of the dismissal of other potential and what appears to be more likely causations, particularly that of dredging.

”The Marine Management Organisation, one of Defra’s partner organisations, issues PD Ports a ten-year licence to maintain the Tees. It permits them to dredge and dispose of approx 190,000 meter cubed of sand, sediment and silt from the Tees throughout a year. It is understood that the majority of last years work took place over a ten day period.

“The practice of dredging the Tees is of particular concern because the mud is known to be toxically contaminated from decades of industrial works and in particular with PAH (pyridine) which has been found within these mortalities. The concern being that the government agencies “regionally contextualize” their responsibility which states in their own words “Samples of dredge material meet the highest international standards protecting marine life before it is permitted to be disposed of at sea.” In effect turning a blind eye to their own dredging standards to allow the polluting our Tees waters from under-regulated dredging practices.

“It is therefore extremely important that we move today to insist the investigation is reopened along with the support of our other local authorities so that dredging sampling and more analysis as to why marine life is dying can be investigated.”

Image: BBC News

Further Reading and References:

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