The environmentalist group Sea Shepherd discovered 100,000 dead fishes floating close to France caused by an accidental spill into the Atlantic Ocean from the Dutch-owned trawler FV Margiris, the world’s second-biggest fishing vessel.

The bodies of the dead fishes killed in early February 2022 covered an area of about 3,000 sq m. They were mostly blue whiting, a sub-species of cod. FV Margiris, owned by the Dutch company Parlevliet & Van der Plas and sailing under the flag of Lithuania, was responsible for their deaths. It deliberately went into the ocean with drag nets more than a kilometre long in order to capture fishes and kill them after taking them on board.

Annick Girardin, France’s maritime minister, called the images of the dead fish “shocking” and has asked the national fishing surveillance authority to launch an investigation. It is likely it will discover that the whitings were deliberately killed to be sold to companies that produce fingers, oil, and meal, for human consumption and fertiliser. 

The fishing industry group the Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA) said to The Guardian that the spill was caused by a rupture in the trawler’s net. However, as expected, it did not deny that the purpose of the ship was to kill all those fishes, and many more.

In 2012, the Margiris was forced to leave Australian waters for being banned by the then environment minister Tony Burke following widespread protests. But it seems those protests were mostly because of how many, where, and how the vessel should be allowed to kill fishes, not because of the actual death and destruction it normally causes every time it leaves a port. From all the machines humanity has built, it’s difficult to imagine one more deadly than a Supertrawler. However, most people disapprove of ships going out to kill whales but don’t’ complain about these vessels, even if the former only kill a minuscule proportion of sentient beings the latter kill. For vegans, though, this cognitive dissonance does not occur, as we know both fishes and aquatic mammals feel pain, can suffer, and don’t want to be killed.   

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.