Politicians of all colours in the North East have united in their calls for Teesside's fishing industry to receive more support from the Government, however the row over getting to the bottom of the cause of mass crustaceans deaths rumbles on.

Following the publication of a report commissioned by the government's Department for the Environment (Defra) into all available evidence into the unexplained mass deaths of crabs and crustaceans along the Teesside coast since October 2021, politicians have been united in calling for support for the fishermen whose livelihoods have been decimated by the disaster.

The report's findings are inconclusive, although while the idea of a new disease which affects crabs is seen by the report's authors as most likely, they say that the cause of the deaths is just as likely to be a new disease as not.

Tees Valley's Conservative Mayor Ben Houchen said it was now "clear that neither dredging, nor any work carried out by the Freeport, played a role in the crustacean deaths".

He added: "When I was elected, I promised former steelworkers who worked on that site that I would create a new thriving industry of the future with thousands of good-quality local jobs for local people.

"Today, backed by the science, we can look every single one of them in the eye and say the work we are doing, in an area that means so much to so many people, is safe and is of the highest possible standard.

“The wash-up in 2021 was devastating for our fishing community - one of our proudest industries with some of the most hard-working people on Teesside. Their industry has been ruined by a natural disaster and it is now essential Government steps up and supports them to recover from the events of October 2021. I've said this from day one and will continue to press the case with ministers.

“I always have, and I always will, work tirelessly to deliver jobs and investments for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. That work will only intensify in the coming weeks to continue to deliver for the people I represent.”

Meanwhile Labour MP Alex Cunningham, representing Stockton North, said in a statement: "We now know that the algal bloom theory which the Prime Minister, Ministers, Tory MPs and the Tees Valley Mayor have hidden behind for so long is an unlikely cause for the mass deaths.

"Just think of the time they could have saved had they held up their hands, accepted that it was an inconclusive theory, and agreed to carrying out more testing and investigations from the outset.

"We now need a fully independent and entirely transparent investigation in to the matter with access to all areas for sampling and testing. Only then will get to the bottom of this environmental tragedy of epic proportions.”

Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Simon Clarke, said he "cares deeply about the region's environment" and "has been as concerned as anyone as to the possible cause of these deaths, not least because of the impact this has had on our local fishing industry."

He added: "It is of concern that the investigators have identified an unknown pathogen, new to UK waters, as the most likely cause. There is now more to be done to investigate this and also to look at the support that we can offer our local fishermen to recover."

Mr Clarke also slammed his political opponents, accusing them of attempting "to shamelessly exploit people's concerns for political effect", saying: "If they had succeeded in their campaign, they would have stopped vital work to prepare the Tees for new jobs and opportunities and would have shattered investor confidence in the whole project, risking jobs and growth.

In response to his comments, former Redcar MP Anna Turley told The Northern Echo, "Simon Clarke's rush to play politics with this inconclusive report, together with his failure over the last year to listen to the genuine concerns of the community are desperate and demean his role.

"The fishing industry along our coast has been decimated. The community have looked to their elected representatives like Simon for help and have been ignored and patronised.

"No efforts were made to examine this until local campaigners raised awareness of it all with major news channels and a parliamentary select committee."