Fishermen are concerned about another shellfish extinction

Fishermen on the North East coast who blame dredging for a shellfish die-off are anxious that more silt may be discharged at sea, causing even more damage.

Since 2021, thousands of crabs and lobsters have washed ashore on Teesside and North Yorkshire beaches.

Campaigners claim that normal dredging on the River Tees unleashed a poisonous chemical on shellfish.

According to the authorities, the most likely culprit was naturally occurring algae.

In September of last year, we did more dredging work to deepen a new quay in the Teesside freeport region.

Fishermen and other campaigners are worry that more dredging for the new quay may result in similar die-offs later this year.

Joe Redfern, a marine researcher, and the fisherman, said that the dredging “caused” the deaths of shellfish washed up on beaches and in catches.

He stated that almost 1.2 million tonnes of sediment, dredge as part of massive rehabilitation work in the Freeport area, will be deposit to sea rather than landfill.

“As a fishing community, we are concerned that the dredge waste would devastate the marine ecosystem and, ultimately, our livelihoods,” Mr. Redfern said.

The Teesside Freeport is a significant policy priority for the region’s Conservative-electe mayor, Ben Houchen, and he expects to bring thousands of employees to the region.

According to a Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs assessment, the most likely cause of the 2021 die-off is a naturally occurring algal bloom.

Mr. Houchen concurs with the government’s findings.

However, a study commission by fishermen and researchers at the universities of York, Newcastle, Durham, and Hull suggest that the shellfish deaths could have been cause by pyridine, a poisonous chemical use as an anti-corrosion treatment in marine infrastructure.

Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, disputes the conclusions.

“The freeport’s dredging has been blam for the crab die-off, which is quite unfair given that the die-off occur in October 2021 and dredging did not begin until 11 months later, in September 2022,” he state.

Scarborough and Whitby Conservative MP Sir Robert Goodwill has urged an immediate probe.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s senior scientific advisor, has also formed an independent group to examine the evidence behind the marine deaths.

Adrian Noble is one of the fishermen concerned about the future if the reason for the huge shellfish mortality is not swiftly found and resolved.

“It’ll devastate me; I’ll have to go on welfare,” he said. “It’s really devastating.”

Watch Politics North (Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) on BBC One on 15 January at 10:00 GMT for more on this story.

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