Mass crab deaths may have been caused by a new pathogen: UK research

The government, which is developing a flagship new “freeport” in the region, was relieved by a new finding on Friday. London (AFP) – What caused the mass death of crustaceans off the coast of northeast England in late 2021?

The government claims that the customs-free zone in Teesside is one of several planned to demonstrate Britain’s “post-Brexit freedoms” in trade.

This week, some members of parliament called for the suspension of dredging at that freeport and other locations, in the event that it was the cause of the extinction of crabs, lobsters, and other crustaceans from October to December 2021.

A “naturally occurring harmful algal bloom” from Hartlepool to Whitby was blamed in a first government study of the mystery phenomenon.

Then, an academic study supported by the fishing industry identified pyridine as an industrial pollutant possibly connected to the dredging.

Teesside has a long history of heavy industry, especially chemical plants.

However, the most recent independent study commissioned by the government stated that the cause was “as likely as not that a pathogen new to UK waters.”

The experts concluded that an algal bloom was “unlikely” and that pyridine or another toxic pollutant was “very unlikely” to have killed the crabs.

Because it did not produce enough pyridine or other toxic chemicals to kill the crabs, maintenance dredging, which is required to keep the port open, was also “very unlikely” to be the cause.

The government’s chief scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance, was pleased with the report.

“Whilst with the current data there cannot be a definitive answer, the options for possible causes and an analysis of likelihood are clearly laid out in the report,” he said.


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