Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has welcomed the news that an independent panel is being established to investigate crustacean die-offs on the Teesside and North Yorkshire shoreline, declaring that there is “no time to lose” in finding a conclusive reason behind the continued deaths of crabs and other wildlife.
Responding to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, which recently called for further testing into the levels of pyridine in the bed of the Tees Estuary, Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer MP confirmed that an independent panel to examine evidence and explanations would be set up by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) Chief Scientific Advisor Gideon Henderson, in liaison with the Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance. DEFRA’s Chief Scientific Advisor has not previously been involved in considering this issue.
Alex, who continues to work with neighbouring MP Andy McDonald, the local fishing industry, marine experts and councillors across Teesside to get answers to the ongoing die-offs, and recently called for capital dredging to be halted so further tests could be carried out, also said the local fishing industry needs to hear “solutions as well as explanations from this panel if it is to survive this crisis”.
“The announcement of an independent panel into the evidence and explanations of the crustacean die-offs blighting our shoreline is welcome news and I hope it not only takes a thorough look into the ongoing issue, but suggests a way forward to stop this issue once and for all. Our fishing industry has been significantly impacted by the die-offs and it needs to hear solutions, not just explanations, from this panel if it is to survive the crisis washing up on our shores.
“There also remains a very real concern across Teesside communities about these die-offs. I was recently visited by two young people at my advice surgery who told me their much-loved visits to the beach to fly their kites have been stopped because their parents worry about the potential wider harms of these dead crustaceans. People are anxious and asking for an open and honest conversation about the issue, and I hope the panel will go some way to address these.
“I hope the panel is established and carrying out its investigation as quickly as possible. While dead crustaceans are still turning up on our shores there’s really no time to lose.”