FISHERMEN and activists affected by mass crab and lobster deaths along the North East coast continue to dispute the official explanation behind the mortality.

Hundreds of dead and dying crabs and lobsters were washed ashore in unusually high numbers along parts of the north-east coast of England between October and December 2021. Dozens of dead crustaceans have continued to wash up on local shores throughout 2022.

A harmful algal bloom present in the area was identified as of significance and the most likely cause – but locals remain unconvinced.

Read more: DEFRA report gives update on sea life deaths in North East

The Northern Echo: Seal rescue volunteer and activist, Sally Bunce. Picture: NORTH NEWS AND PICTURESSeal rescue volunteer and activist, Sally Bunce. Picture: NORTH NEWS AND PICTURES

Responding to the latest report, which was published on Tuesday, local seal rescue volunteer Sally Bunce criticised government officials, saying they should be “ashamed” for their work.

 “It contains nothing that wasn't conducted and concluded at the first outcome,” Ms Bunce said.

“This is a woefully inadequate investigation with hypotheses used rather than fact. They should be ashamed if this is the best they can do.

“I provided 14 questions I wished to be answered following the meeting several months ago with DEFRA. They failed to answer any.

“I know other attendees were shocked by what was presented including the independent marine pollution expert Tim Deeree Jones.”

Read more: Read DEFRA's report into crab and lobster deaths along coast 

The Northern Echo: Robert Goodwill MPRobert Goodwill MP

Robert Goodwil, MP for Scarborough and Whitby, recognises fishermen’s frustrations but, ultimately, is relying on the expertise of DEFRA and Environment Agency scientists.

The Conservative MP says he believes, as the report states, that the most likely cause of the mass deaths is from a large algal bloom.

He said: “I can understand the fishermen’s frustration, but if it’s a natural occurrence then unfortunately there’s no way fishermen can get any recompense.

“I am in contact with [fisheries minister] Victoria Prentis and all the messages I get from fishermen I have passed onto her but ultimately, I have to rely on the best marine biologists and environmentalists.

“It’s very frustrating for the fishermen concerned because it’s hitting them hard in the pocket and it threatens the long-term future of one of the most successful fisheries in the country. It’s threatening lives up and down the country.

“It’s a very important industry and the bedrock of towns like Scarborough and Whitby.”

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