Statement from Stan Rennie, fisherman, on behalf of North East Fishing Collective (NEFC)
Government agencies have been promoting unproven, unprovable theories of the cause of the die-off, for 14 solid die-off months, on a fantasy non-stop algae bloom. They are not willing to halt the dredge to carry out full, truly independent, investigations, with teams made up of the agencies’ independent scientists, and with the independent scientific parties commissioned by the North East Fishing Collective (NEFC), to ensure an unbiased outcome.
An outcome that would hopefully lead to the protection from further marine ecosystem devastation, which will be caused by a further 1.7mn tonnes of toxic dredge material removed from the freeport, being dumped 6 miles offshore.
Multiple mass die-offs
Since Phase 1 of the freeport dredge started, there have been increased multiple mass die-offs /mass wash-ups, the latest at Bridlington, last week of shrimps. The third mass wash-up of shrimps on die-off zone beaches in the last month!
The agencies will yet again, we expect, blame algae bloom or bad weather, but outside of the die-off zone, there are no reports of mass wash-ups or any wash-ups!
The whole incident of die-off mortalities, since the exact time of the ORCA Dredge, starting (September/October 2021), and the situation getting much worse since the freeport dredge began (without adequate mitigation being put in place), and also the excavator falling in the river, and a toxic sediment dam built around it to retrieve it, has caused a huge toxic sediment release to the sea.
We need an independent investigation
The North East public will have no confidence until a truly independent body investigates.
We want justice, If we are proven correct, against those responsible for turning a blind eye to the die-offs, and for the agency failures, the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) refusing to allow even free sediment sampling, offered from the universities… and then to test for harmful substances, that would confirm what we already believe to be in the sediment, such as pyridine, substances with the potential to lead to the North Sea eco destruction over a huge, vast area, adding to the 200 to 250 square miles already affected.
A judicial review is needed, to get to the truth, while the capital dredge must be halted, until the review outcome is made public.
If we are proven correct, in the cause of the mass slaughter of the North Sea ecosystem, and the loss of industry jobs and hardship, including half the Hartlepool fleet, among others, gone to the wall, sold or for sale, fishers forced out of a job, since the time of the ORCA dredge, and freeport dredge, justice should be served on the shortcomings of the government and its agencies, inadequate environmental protection laws and people who have turned a blind eye, even refusing to hold full and adequate independent investigations, and sediment testing regimes into the cause of the North East ecosystem destruction.
Toxic dredge, dumped at sea, killing and destroying the marine ecosystem
This can’t be allowed to continue in the Tees, nor any other area of the UK, lessons need to be learned, so others don’t suffer our local ecosystem destruction!
Environmental laws need reviewing, strengthening and adhering to, ensuring this never happens again!
God help the other planned freeport sites!
Thank you for reading and hopefully understanding our fight to protect the marine environment and Industry jobs, from extinction in our local inshore coastal waters of the North Sea.
This fight is not political, it is not from Labour activists, as Ben Houchen, the most powerful man in the region, claims nonstop. It is from the ordinary public, the environmentalists, but mostly, ordinary lads and lasses who are, proud, fishermen and women of the NE Coast.
We deserve better
We deserve better from blinkered government agencies. We are not against a freeport, we are against the ecosystem and fishing industry, heritage, coastal communities, beach users, being sacrificed to allow a toxic dredge from the freeport site.
The freeport dredge should be put on hold, and full, independent investigations completed, that would prove it can’t be dumped at sea!
We aren’t going away, the fight will not stop until we achieve environmental and fishing industry justice and protection. The public is with us, as one.
We are the North East coastal communities, we are part of the UK, we count too.
We are not political, but levelling-up does not mean covering up. Land jobs, at the sacrifice of sea jobs, aren’t acceptable.