France's fisheries minister has called for an investigation after a major incident with tons of dead fish drifting off the country's Atlantic coast. Video footage filmed by environmental activists shows a mass of dead fish floating on the sea surface.
An industry statement said the Margiris, the world's second-largest super trawler, had reported a fishing incident after its net broke. It identified the fish as blue whiting, a species of the cod family.
The lost fish would be deducted from the vessel's quota, the statement added.
The Sea Shepherd France environmental group filmed the fish, saying they covered an area of about 3,000 square meters.
Lamya Essemlali head of Sea Shepherd France said it was essential to raise awareness among the French public about the trawler, which it said had been banned from Australian waters and frequented the Bay of Biscay.
French Fisheries Minister Annick Girardin tweeted that she was investigating and that the images were shocking.
The EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, also said he was seeking exhaustive information and evidence about the case
Meanwhile the Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association issued a statement saying a net on the Margiris had ruptured at 05:50 local time (04:50 GMT) on Thursday morning, adding that this 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.