Sea Shepherd, the international marine conservation organization shared a live video with the footage of a 3,000-square-meter sea blanket of dead fish.
The images were captured about 180km off the French coast and they caught the attention of France's maritime minister, Annick Girardin.
The minister tweeted and said that the images were “shocking” and stated that this practice does not align with France's commitment to “sustainable fishing.”
She has since called for a full investigation into the incident.
The trawler is a full floating fish factory with nets spanning 600 meters by 200 meters when fully deployed. Just to give an idea, this area is large enough to park several planes next to each other, without their wings touching.
The practice of trawling is highly criticized by scientists and environmentalists, due to the destruction of the seafloor, habitat, and biodiversity loss.
The Margiris trawler was forced to leave Australian waters back in 2012, over concerns about its effect on local fish stocks resulting in a ban on its operations.
The vessel catches the fish and processes them onboard, rather than offloading its catch at a port.
The spill of “blue whiting” , a species often used to produce fish fingers, was due to a rupture in the trawler's net.
“This accident is extremely rare in occurrence, and in this case was caused by the unexpectedly large size of the fish caught,” said Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association, which represents the trawler.
Sea Shepherd suspects that the dead fishes were intentionally dumped for other purposes.
According to PETA, the fishing industry kills more than one trillion fish die by the hands of humans each year.