Massive Dump of Dead Fish Prompts Investigation

More than 100K came from huge fishing trawler off the coast of France
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2022 9:20 AM CST
Massive Dump of Dead Fish Prompts Investigation
Dead fish float in the Bay of Biscay, off La Rochelle, western France.   (Sea Shepherd via AP)

From the air, it looks for all the world like an ordinary streak of sea foam, notes France24. It's only up close that it becomes clear the streak of white is actually a massive blob of dead fish—an estimated 100,000 or more of them off the coast of France, per the Guardian. The source is not a mystery: The fish came from the Margris, which is described as the second-largest fishing trawler in the world. But how they came from the ship is a source of controversy.

The Margris says the dump was accidental, blaming an unexpectedly big haul for rupturing its fishing net. “Such an accident is a rare occurrence," says a statement from the Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association, to which the ship belongs, per the AP. But the environmental group Sea Shepherd, which brought the images (and video) to light, alleges that the trawler dumped the fish intentionally and sees it as a callous example of overfishing. The fish are mostly Blue whiting, which is in the cod family and widely used in the food industry.

"This ship is used to this kind of 'fishing accident,'" says Lamya Essemlali, chairperson of Sea Shepherd France. "It has already been involved in discarding of unwanted catches. What's more, we've already filmed other ships that also release thousands of dead fish in their wake. It is therefore an 'accident' that keeps happening a lot on these ships." The incident in the Bay of Biscay has caught the attention of French officials. French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin called the images "shocking" and ordered the National Center for Fishing Surveillance to began in inquiry. (Read more fishing stories.)

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