Fishermen from across North East and Yorkshire in boat protest over mass shellfish deaths

Fishermen demanding a fresh investigation into the deaths create a dramatic scene on the water. Credit: ITV Calendar

Fishermen have held a protest on Teesside over the ongoing deaths of crabs and lobsters which they say is decimating their industry.

Government scientists say natural algae in the water is responsible, but protestors want proof that recent dredging in the North Sea has not also had an impact in creating what they are calling a "dead zone".

Thirty fishing boats from Whitby, Redcar and Hartlepool sailed to South Gare to meet protestors on land to demonstrate about the continuing crisis.

They let off flares and displayed flags and banners during the protest, which began on Thursday morning.

Those involved say The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) findings that natural algae in the water killed the shellfish can't explain the extent of the deaths.

They suspect dredging in the Tees has unearthed the chemical Pyradine which has killed the creatures and demand a fresh investigation.

Fishermen in attendance came from along the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire coast.

Among them was James Cole from the Whitby Commercial Fishing Association.

Mr Cole said: "Defra are saying it's an algal bloom but it's still reoccurring, and Government agencies have just closed the book on it."

'Stop Dumping Toxic Waste' urged one fisherman. Credit: ITV Calendar

"We want them to properly investigate to get to the bottom of this because from November last year we're just on a downward spiral, we've had a terrible winter.

"The price of fuel's gone through the roof, lobster prices have crashed, we can't afford to go on like this. Our environment's getting damaged and we want some truth."

Since October 2021 the region's coast has been affected by dead crabs and lobsters washing up onto the beaches.

Thousands of crabs and lobsters have been washing up from Hartlepool to Robin Hood's Bay Credit: ITV News

As a result, the fishing community says it has been dramatically impacted with reduced catches and income.

The ongoing issue has led to some marine experts and members of the fishing industry from the North East and North Yorkshire crowdfunding.

Joe Redfern, is leading the campaign which aims to raise £10,000 for Newcastle and York universities to independently test waters from the Tees and North Sea.

The money will also go towards legal fees, and support for the worst affected.

An investigation was relaunched by DEFRA in February to allow for additional sampling as dead sea-life continued to wash up on the region's shores.

"We are monitoring recent wash-ups at South Gare and the Tees area," a spokesperson from the department said.

"Small scale wash-ups can occur naturally due to seasonality and weather conditions and we are working closely with partner agencies to support the monitoring and recovery of stocks.

"We note that there are reports of poor catches and we are working with the industry and partner agencies to monitor this and are communicating regularly with the fishing community."

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