Independent Expert Assessment of Crustacean Mortality in the North-east of England in 2021 and 2022

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written statement – made on 20th January 2023.

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Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Today I am publishing the Independent Expert Assessment of Unusual Crustacean Mortality in the North-east of England in 2021 and 2022 on

The report documents the findings of the independent crustacean mortality expert panel (CMEP) convened by our Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Gideon Henderson.

The panel was convened in December 2022 to provide an independent scientific assessment of all the possible causes of the mass mortality incident using all relevant available data. I would like to thank the members of the panel for their work.

The independent panel concluded that pyridine or another toxic pollutant as the cause was very unlikely as was any link to dredging for the Freeport.

A novel pathogen is considered by the independent panel to be the most likely cause of mortality because it could explain the key observations including mortality over a sustained period and along over 40 miles of coastline, the unusual twitching of dying crabs and the deaths being predominantly crabs rather than other species.

I will consider carefully if further analysis by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) can ascertain conclusively the cause of this unusual mortality.