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No cause for concern from fisherman as Beast from the East sees crab shortage

PUBLISHED: 14:43 23 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:56 23 May 2018

Cromer fisherman John Davies.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Cromer fisherman John Davies. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

They are our very own beasts from the deep. But it seems that the famous North Sea crabs have met their match - in the shape of the Beast from the East.

The sun shining on Cromer beach at 7.30am as a crab fisherman brings in his catch. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY The sun shining on Cromer beach at 7.30am as a crab fisherman brings in his catch. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

For the late-February storm is believed to be a factor in a big dip in the number of crabs caught and sold so far this spring.

But experienced crabbers are not worried, and today reassured fans of the celebrated crustacean that stocks would soon recover.

The Beast from the East saw thousands of shellfish washed up along the East Anglian coastline, but wreaked havoc on the sea floor as well.

That, along with an uncharacteristically cold winter, meant the crabbing season started later than usual.

CAPTION; Photos of the Wells Fishing Community for Anglia Afloat. Pic shows Andy Frary.
PHOTO; Matthew Usher
COPY; Zoe DUnford
FOR; ANGLIA AFLOAT
COPYRIGHT; EDP pics © 2008
TEL; (01603) 772434 CAPTION; Photos of the Wells Fishing Community for Anglia Afloat. Pic shows Andy Frary. PHOTO; Matthew Usher COPY; Zoe DUnford FOR; ANGLIA AFLOAT COPYRIGHT; EDP pics © 2008 TEL; (01603) 772434

“I’d say we’re catching about 60% of what we’re usually catching,” said Wells crabber Andy Frary.

Mr Frary has been crabbing since 1980 and said: “There’s nothing to be worried about. We have on and off years, and we haven’t had an off year since about 2012.

“There’s a number of factors which could contribute to this. One could be the Beast of the East, because that would churn up the seabed and the bigger or more juvenile crabs would have been injured.”

Shellfish including crabs were reported to have been washed up all along the north Norfolk coastline following the February storms.

Mr Frary, 58, said: “Another thing is the Beast of the East destroyed so many of our crab and lobster pots. We’ve lost about 200 and the ones we have found have been flattened.

“It will have an effect on us going forward because it’ll take a few years for us to recover the cost: the pots are about £70 each. Plus, there’s

a limited amount of places you can get them and everyone’s having the same trouble.”

Mr Frary, who runs A and M Frary Shellfish in Wells, added: “There have been some upsides though.

“The colder waters have brought in spring cod which usually we never get around here. We ourselves don’t have a licence to catch them, but it’s something we rarely see anyway.

“Less prolific seasons are always going to happen, especially after we’ve had some really good years. But that’s why it’s called fishing rather than catching, because you can’t be catching something all the time.”

Fishermen assure crab consumers that stock downturn is “nothing to worry about”

Chairman of North Norfolk Fisherman’s Society speaks out

The chairman of the North Norfolk Fisherman’s Society has seconded the message that there is no cause for concern with regards to the crabs.

John Davies said: “The crabs are no more under threat than they are in any other year. We’re dealing with a live animals, it could be something as simple as they’re eating a different food source this year.

“They eat loads of different food, algae and such like, and there might be more of that than previously. We can only bait them with what we have, but if they’re not eating it then we won’t catch them.”

Mr Davies, of Davies Fish Shop in Cromer said: “We have plenty of fish on sale on our counters, but for fishmongers who buy or import they are having trouble because there isn’t enough crab being caught to fulfil their orders.

“This business will always have peaks and troughs, the crabs just aren’t as prolific this year as they have been in other years.”

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