Dutch Trawler Dumps 100,000 Dead Fish into the Western Coast of France

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Around 100,000 dead fish, dumped by the Dutch-owned trawler FV Margiris, were seen floating on the Bay of Biscay-located on the western Atlantic coast of France.

The incident drew outrage from French environmentalists who advocate against overfishing and called for a response from the French government.

Ocean of Dead Fish

Dead fish

(Photo : Marcel Mochet via Getty Images)

Images that went viral on social media showed the FV Margiris dumping approximately 100,000 dead fish into the Bay of Biscay, off the western coast of France, on Feb. 3.

The recent incident drew debates on whether it was an accident or not.

The incident attracted public criticism, especially from environmentalists.

The Sea Shepherd France, an NGO responsible for protecting marine ecosystems, and the group who posed the said images on social media, denounced the incident and advocated for public awareness among French citizens.

Activists from Sea Shepherd claimed the Dutch-owned trawler FV Margiris dumped the fishes it did not want to process, adding that the trawler violated EU rules on maritime operations.

They called on the French government to take action and led advocacy to raise public awareness of the incident.

Also read: Spain Expands Ban on Harmful Fertilizers After Dead Fishes Wash Up on Lagoon

Accident or Not: FV Margiris Faces Criticism

The activists said that incident was not an accident and that the trawler intentionally dumped the dead fish.

According to Sea Shepherd chairperson, Lamya Essemlali, “This ship is used to this kind of ‘fishing accident’. It has already been involved in the discarding of unwanted catches,” as cited by France24 news.

On Feb. 4, the Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA), the fishing industry group representing the owner of FV Margiris, issued an official statement regarding the incident on the early morning of Feb. 3, describing it as an “accident” and a “very rare occurrence.”

The PFA stated that the trawler’s net was ruptured and led to the involuntary release of a large number of blue whiting fish into the sea.

Annick Girardin, the fisheries minister of France, stated the images on social media were shocking and requested an administrative investigation into the incident, as per WION news.

Blue Whiting Fish

According to Essemlali, the dumping of 100,000 blue whiting fish has an impact on its predators, like dolphins and sharks.

The dumped fishes should have been food for the said predators-and without them, these predators could starve, said Essemlali.

The blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou) fish is one of the two species in the genus Micromesistius in the family (Gadidae).

The blue whiting fish are commonly responsible for large fisher in northern European countries and across the European Union, as per Science Direct.

Incidents in UK and Australia

FV Margiris

(Photo : Olaf Kraak via Getty Images)

The Dutch-owned trawler FV Margiris is the second largest fishing vessel across the world. The vessel weighs around 9,500 tons and is 143 meters long.

In 2019, UK environmentalists called on the government to ban FV Margiris from British waters but failed to do so.

FV Margiris was also involved in a separate incident back in 2012 when it was banned from operating in Australia, as per Reuters.

The ban of the vessel in Australia was the result of the actions of Greenpeace activists who called on the Australian government to refuse to give a fishing license to the trawler.

Related article: Thousands of Dead Fish Suddenly Show Up in a New York Canal 


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