AN investigation into the death of crabs and lobsters in the North Sea has been relaunched following further reports of deaths.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is carrying out further tests after more deaths were recorded.

Huge piles of dead and dying crabs and lobsters started to wash up on the North East and North Yorkshire coast last October.

Earlier this month, Defra said the results of its investigation pointed to the cause of the deaths as a naturally occurring algal bloom.

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However, it has now said further sampling is required due to further reports of dead or dying crustaceans in a number of pots.

Further scientific research is also being carried out due to fishers reporting that catches are lower than would be usually expected for the time of year.

A Defra spokesperson said: “Further scientific work is required to continue to examine the ongoing impact of this incident and we will continue to update industry on next steps as work continues.

The Northern Echo:

“Significant testing and modelling previously ruled out a number of potential causes including chemical pollution, sewage, animal disease or dredging.

“However, although healthy crabs and lobsters have been recorded in the area, we are aware that there have been reports of further dead or dying lobsters and crabs found in a small number of pots along the North East coast this week, and will be undertaking additional sampling of crab and lobster within the incident area to investigate.”

Defra’s report was criticised by the North East Commercial Fishing Collective earlier this month, which said it was "utter rubbish" that the deaths had been caused by algal blooms.

The Northern Echo:

The group has raised more than £5,000 through an online crowdfunding campaign to pay for independent investigations, legal fees and support for those affected.

Independent marine pollution consultant Tim Deere-Jones carried out his own report for the group, which pointed to the cause as being a chemicals called pyridine.

In response, Defra has previously said pyridine was not present in water or sediment samples collected, but was found in crab tissues in both the impacted and other areas – pointing to the levels in crab tissue likely to be linked to biological processes rather than the environment.

There have been calls for a financial support package for fishermen whose livelihood has been affected by lower hauls.

Read more: Call for support for fishermen suffering following crab deaths

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