NE Fisheries publish their own independent report on mass mortalities along coastline

dead lobster surrounded by other dead crustaceans

Press Release on behalf of North East Fishing Collective (NEFC)

A report issued by the North East Fishing Collective slams DEFRA failure to respond appropriately to the mass mortality of marine life and the subsequent collapse of the NE Coast crustacean fishery.

a mass of dead crustaceans on sand

A new briefing issued by the NE Coast CFAs concludes that, 7 months  after the initiation of the  Mass Mortality of Marine Species in October 2021 and the decimation of the NE coast crustacean stocks and fishing fleet, the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has comprehensively failed to identify any causative factor for the die off of so many species and the collapse of the previously viable and successful crustacean fishery.

While failing to produce a viable argument for its proposal that the die off was caused by a Harmful Algal Bloom DEFRA has consistently attempted to downplay the NEFC report argument that the available evidence of very high levels of the toxic chemical Pyridine found by DEFRA in impacted crustaceans provides a probable causative factor.

Marine Pollution Consultant Tim Deere-Jones, the report’s author said: “the response of DEFRA to the problems for marine life and fishing communities, in the impact zone from Tees mouth southwards, has focussed on avoiding serious investigation of toxic chemicals and their source and impact by floating an unsubstantiated and un-evidenced Harmful Algal Bloom as the suspect. It seems that marine wildlife and fishing communities are to be sacrificed on the alter of industrial and port development.”


Notes for editors: DEFRA and its subordinate bodies the Environment Agency, Marine Management Organisation and CEFAS, continue to adhere to its proposal that the mass mortality die off was caused by an un-evidenced toxic algal bloom while ignoring the significance presence of very high levels of the toxic chemical Pyridine in crab samples collected from the mass mortality/die off zone.

The NE Coast CFA report concludes that the DEFRA hypothesis for a harmful algal bloom still has no confirmed empirical basis, because only very small numbers of harmful algae were found in water samples and these were far below the concentrations expected to occur in a developed bloom intense enough to kill so much marine life.

The DEFRA hypothesis relies largely on satellite imagery of an event occurring off the mouth of the Tees estuary, but the independent scientists responsible for processing the imagery cannot confirm the presence of a Harmful Algal Bloom and possibly not even the presence of any form of algal bloom, since recent scientific evidence has shown that interpretation of satellite imagery can mistake plumes of suspended sediment for algal blooms.

The NE Coast CFA report warns that such a false identification may well have taken place regarding the Tees mouth images, as the capturing of the satellite images was coincident with the intense levels of dredging and dredge waste disposal occurring around Tees mouth  and there would have been high levels of suspended sediment both in side the Estuary and downs stream of it at the time.

The CFA report confirms, with yet more peer reviewed data, the very high toxicity of Pyridine and its compounds to marine crustaceans and links the recent appearance of Pyridine to the dredge and disposal of the heavily chemically contaminated sediments of the Tees estuary which have been the receiving environment of by-product discharges of Pyridine from multiple industrial sources for well over 100 years.

Download the full report here


What next? “We believe the NE Fisheries and coastal communities should be fully compensated by those responsible for this wilful gross negligent act of Marine Ecocide” -Capt. Garry Oates