When thousands of crabs started washing up on the beaches of Teesside in north-east England, authorities blamed algae in the water. But the fishers watching their livelihoods disappear weren’t buying it. Joshua Kelly reports
In the autumn of 2021, the beaches of Teesside, in north-east England, were transformed. Along the sands lay hundreds of thousands of dead and dying crabs and lobsters. It was, in the words of a parliamentary committee, a “disaster” that had had a “profound effect”. Fishers who had relied on the catches in the cold North Sea waters suddenly saw their livelihoods drop off a cliff. Many could not believe what they were seeing. They wanted answers.
The Today in Focus producer Joshua Kelly knows the area well and has been following the story for this special report. The authorities carried out an investigation that concluded the likeliest cause of the shellfish deaths was a naturally occurring algae bloom. But many were not convinced.