Protesters leave piles of dead crab outside government DEFRA headquarters

Climate action group, Ocean Rebellion, staged a protest today in London by leaving piles of dead crab on the streets.

The group is campaigning against DEFRA’s decision to close the case on the thousands of dead crabs and lobsters that washed up on North Eastern shores in autumn last year.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs declared that the mass deaths of shellfish were down to an ‘Algae bloom’ but Ocean Rebellion dispute this.

The activists dressed as fishing crew and delivered rotting Cornish crab to DEFRA’s Headquarters in London. This was cleared away after the demonstration.

The climate action group says dredging is to blame. Credit: Crispin Hughes

Ocean Rebellion say the dead crabs that washed up on North East shores contained high levels of the chemical ‘Pyridine’, a toxic substance used in many industrial processes which has been stirred up by dredging.

Co-Founder Rob Higgs said: "The government approved the dredging on the basis that it was 'routine maintenance’, thus getting around the need for such rigorous environmental assessments of the impact.

"Dredging was a 17-meter-deep channel of quarter of 1 million tons releasing 200 years of toxic chemicals that had accumulated since the start of the industrial revolution in one go into the sea and this mass die off is the effect."

DEFRA ruled out dredging as the cause of the mass deaths back in January along with chemical pollution, sewage, undersea cabling and seismic survey activity.

It said 'Algae Bloom' - which is a natural event - was the most likely cause of the mass deaths.

DEFRA declared recently that an Algae Bloom was the cause but some protesters and fisherman say otherwise.

DEFRA today says it "thoroughly investigated this incident and concluded that a naturally occurring harmful algal bloom was the most likely cause."

It also said recently that healthy crabs and lobsters are now being caught in the region, and stocks will continue to be monitored.

What is Dredging?

Dredging is the process of excavating river or sea beds of debris and sediment.

The build of sediment is a naturally occurring process where silt, sand and other debris accumulate on the bottom of rivers, lakes, canals or streams over time.

An excessive build-up of debris and sediment can cause a series of issues like reducing the depth of the waterways and preventing the passage of ships.