More questions than answers, says Alex of crustacean die-off report as he calls for regular testing

A call for regular testing and monitoring of water and marine life has been made by Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham in response to the recent Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) report into the mass crustacean die-offs which blighted the Teesside and North Yorkshire shores and devasted the local fishing industry.  

Following the Mass Mortality Event of crustaceans in 2021 – and after much campaigning by Alex, local fishers and other campaigners – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) commissioned Cefas to test for pyridine and re-examine the crab tissue samples collected during the incident. Cefas reported back to ministers in early November with findings including that pyridine was an unlikely cause of the die-offs.

The inconclusive nature of the report however has prompted further questions from Alex, and he has written to Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer with three asks:

  • For an understanding of the ongoing work to determine the definitive answer to the crustacean die-offs.
  • For open access to the samples to enable any future, independent research.
  • For a commitment from DEFRA for regular testing, monitoring and reporting regime of seas and sea-life.

Alex said:

“I’m grateful to those working on the Crustacean Mortality Expert Panel and indeed to everyone who has been trying to find the cause of this ecological catastrophe. Whether Ministers like it or not however, the recent report leaves more questions than answers, particularly around the definitive cause of the die-offs.

“The fishing industry and local people deserve to know the reasons behind the die-offs and they need to know that their Government doing all it can to avoid a repeat of this ecological catastrophe, protect our natural environment, and support local fishers.”