Investigation ordered after giant trawler sheds 100,000 dead fish off French coast

There was a mass discharge from the FV Margiris into the Atlantic ocean. Credit: Sea Shepherd France/Facebook

A minister has ordered an investigation to be carried out after the world's second biggest fishing vessel shed more than 100,000 dead fish into the Atlantic ocean off the coast of France.

Footage of the mass of dead fish, shed by the Dutch-owned trawler FV Margiris in the Bay of Biscay on Thursday, was captured by environmental campaign group Sea Shepherd France.

France’s maritime minister, Annick Girardin, called the images “shocking” and has called for the national fishing surveillance authority to launch an investigation.

The Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association, a fishing industry group which represents the vessel’s owner, said the spill was caused by a rupture in the trawler’s net and was a “very rare occurrence”.

“In line with EU law, this has been recorded in the vessel’s log book and reported to the authorities of the vessel’s flag state, Lithuania,” it said in a statement.

The fish were blue whiting, a sub-species of cod used to mass-produce fish fingers and fish oil.

Super sized trawlers like the FV Margiris use huge drag nets more than a kilometre long and process the fish on-board, a practice heavily condemned by environmentalists.