JILL MORTIMER: Call to look again at possible causes of crustacean deaths

Last Friday I spent the day focusing on everything “marine-related” in Hartlepool.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 12:00 am
A picture of a dead crab supplied by Mail reader Carl Clyne.
A picture of a dead crab supplied by Mail reader Carl Clyne.

Our coastal areas play a vital role in making Hartlepool the place it is – whether it be environmental, economic, or industrial – I think most of us have a vested interest in Hartlepool’s coastal region.

As most of you will know, some months ago, we saw a mass of crustaceans washed up dead along the North East coast.

The Environment Agency, Defra, the Marine Management Organisation and a number of other agencies collaborated to investigate this incident and concluded that the most likely cause was an algal bloom.

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However, with these deaths decimating the industry and the livelihoods of local fishermen, I attended a meeting with Hartlepool Fishing Company, local fishermen and representatives from PD Ports – we discussed the potential and likelihood that dredging of the Tees was a cause of the crustacean deaths.

There is still, of course, much disagreement about the cause of these deaths, and I have written to the Environment Minister Victoria Prentis as a matter of urgency to look again and reassess potential causes.

I will continue to support our fishermen through this difficult time and see what positive steps can be taken moving forward.

While my thoughts very much remain with these fishermen whose livelihoods depend on the viability of our marine ecosystem, there are still things we can all do to help preserve Hartlepool’s coastline.

I was therefore delighted to join students from English Martyrs School for a beach clean in Seaton last week. I’ve spoken before about English Martyrs’ "green projects” and it is clear that the young people I met with have a real passion for keeping our environment and beaches clean – well done English Martyrs!

I also met with Cedric and Mark who were kind enough to show me around the Hartlepool Marine Supplies “HMS” showroom and store.

I loved learning more about Hartlepool’s rich shipping and marine history, and with their family history in fishing and shipping dating back to 1928 when their father began working on deep sea trawlers.

Not only does this family business work in boat building and marine supplies, but the men at the helm have a wealth of knowledge about the town’s marine heritage – truly fascinating.