Labour candidate Alison Hume 'demands' public inquiry into mass crustacean die-off along Yorkshire Coast

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The Labour and Co-operative candidate for Scarborough and Whitby at the next general election is calling for a public inquiry into the mass die-off of crustaceans along the Yorkshire Coast.

Alison Hume met with members of the fishing community on April 7 to hear how the incident has affected them and has written to Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey to demand a public inquiry.

Thousands of dead crabs and lobsters died in mysterious circumstances and first began washing ashore between Hartlepool and Whitby in October 2021, with campaigners and several university scientists suggesting a toxic industrial chemical called pyridine may be responsible.

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Ms Hume said: “Thousands of dead lobsters and crabs have been washing up on our shores yet the Government is missing in action and the local MP Sir Robert Goodwill has turned his back on constituents who are deeply concerned about this crisis.

Alison Hume with members of the fishing community. (Photo: Contributed)Alison Hume with members of the fishing community. (Photo: Contributed)
Alison Hume with members of the fishing community. (Photo: Contributed)

“Whitby is the third biggest supplier of lobsters in Europe and home to an innovative lobster hatchery, yet finding out why lobsters were wiped out and have yet to recover is of little interest to the Conservatives.”

A report convened by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs published in January could not identify a clear cause but said a disease or parasite new to UK waters is “the most likely cause” and “very unlikely” to be the result of dredging the River Tees.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey has since refused calls to launch a second investigation into the mass die-off and said finding the exact cause was “highly unlikely”.

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Sir Robert Goodwill, the Conservative MP for Scarborough and Whitby and chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee previously wrote to Ms Coffey asking for an urgent study into the mass die-off.

He has since said the recent shellfish deaths have been turned into “a political campaign against the Freeport” in Teesside.

Ms Hume added: “We must know how this happened and explore if anything can be done to make sure it never happens again.

“It’s so upsetting to listen to the distress of fishing operators – many of whom are generational fishers who know this coastline better than anyone. This is personal for them – the sight of so many dead crustaceans indicates something catastrophic has happened but they feel like no one listens or cares.”