Stop Octopus Farming

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Save the octopus

This page is a compilation of information for individuals and organisations that are against bringing a new species into intensive, industrial farming practices. Scientific information on this website is based on research from E Lara, J Jacquet, B Franks, P Godfrey-Smith and W Sánchez-Suárez (full reports linked below). Our collective goal is to:

Ban the Octopus Farm

We recognise that we are interconnected with nature and with each other, and what we do to the planet and its living creatures, we do to ourselves. We believe this farm is wrong for a number of reasons: its ethical implications, its environmental consequences, and its ecosystemic repercussions (to name a few). Read on to learn more about the issue.

#StopOctopusFarming

THE PROBLEM

Nueva Pescanova intends to construct the world’s first factory farm for octopuses in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, the Spanish territory off the coast of Morocco.

Octopus has traditionally been consumed in the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia, but growing demand has put additional pressure on wild octopus populations and made food industries eager to farm octopuses in captivity.

Octopus

#StopOctopusFarming

Octopus Farm Spain

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THIS FARM?

Nueva Pescanova has been reluctant to share details about their plans for the facility, but through submitted plans and reporting we know:

The company aims to go into operation in 2023 and declared an estimated annual “output” of 3,000 tonnes of octopus “meat.”

Considering the Octopus vulgaris (the species to be farmed) weighs up to 9 kilograms – that means the slaughter of at least 300,000 captive octopuses each year.

Since maintaining ideal growth conditions in the open ocean is logistically near-impossible, they intend to raise the octopuses in tanks on land. While these tanks are more convenient for the industry, they are incredibly resource-intensive to run which raises questions about energy use and emissions. Additionally, it is unclear how the large quantities of water will be treated before being released to waterways. Finally, we don’t know if they intend to isolate octopus to restrictive, individual pipes or cram them into communal tanks; but in either case there are serious concerns about how the creatures’ welfare will be ensured.

“Opening this farm means the slaughter of at least

0

captive octopuses each year”

#StopOctopusFarming

“How we treat those who are at our mercy is the truest reflection of who we are as individuals, communities and nations”

Philip Lymbery, CEO CIWF
“Justice for Animals – Not Just Kindness”

8 REASONS

TO STOP THIS FARM​

Their carnivorous diets would be unsustainable.
As octopuses are carnivorous, industry and researchers are currently developing feeds for farmed octopuses based on the use of fishmeal and fish oil. This would place additional unsustainable pressure on wild fish populations – 90% of which are suitable for human consumption (and reduces the amount of food available for species that rely on small fish, like penguins). It would also contribute to further food security issues in regions such as West Africa, Southeast Asia and South America where the main industrial fishmeal factories are located.
They are not an efficient source of food.
Octopuses have a food conversion rate of 3:1 (i.e. it takes 3 kgs of food to yield 1 kg of octopus meat). This is not a justifiable use of the world's scarce food resources. For this reason, octopus farming was deemed incompatible with the EU Strategic Aquaculture Guidelines One third of global carbon emissions stem from food production already, making this one of the key climate change variables. Do we really want to grow that number by introducing a new species to industrial farming?
There is no current legislation to protect the welfare of farmed octopuses.
Octopuses are totally unprotected from suffering and inhumane slaughter methods as there are currently no laws in place in the EU, the US, Mexico, or Japan, where octopus farming is being developed, to regulate their welfare and farming practices. It would be totally irresponsible for lawmakers to allow the continued development of plans to farm octopuses without proper legislation in place.
Intensively farming any species is associated with a risk of health problems.
The intense conditions of the farm would increase exposure for the octopuses, but also open the possibility of transmission to humans. Previous studies have found that octopuses can suffer from up to 20 different pathologies, including Vibrio cholerae, which causes the cholera disease in humans.
They are fragile creatures that are easily injured.
Octopuses do not have internal or external skeletons to protect them, and their skin is very fragile and easily damaged. In a farm environment, octopuses are likely to be injured, either through physical contact by a handler or aggressive interactions with other octopuses. Their fast jet-propelled locomotion means that if they are confined in small spaces, they can easily be injured by crashing into tank walls or cages. Therefore, there is a high risk of pain and suffering from injuries that are likely to occur.
They are highly inquisitive sentient beings.
Octopuses are known for their extraordinary intelligence, and as a result of their natural inquisitiveness and tendency to explore, manipulate and control their environment, they would be easily susceptible to boredom in captivity. The mass production of octopuses is likely to have barren, controlled and sterile environments and, therefore, lack sensory inputs. Furthermore, as naturally solitary animals, octopuses would not fare well in the crowded conditions and high stocking densities that are typical of factory farm systems. This can result in very poor welfare and creates the risk of aggression and territorialism that can lead to cannibalism.
There is currently no scientifically-validated method for the humane slaughter of octopuses.
While slaughter methods are currently being studied, none has been scientifically approved as humane. Current literature on wild-caught octopus slaughter mentions a variety of methods, including clubbing their heads, slicing their brains, asphyxiation in a net, and chilling in ice. Humane alternatives to these methods – which would ensure that octopuses are rendered immediately unconscious before being killed – are yet to be developed.
Little is known about their complex welfare needs and suffering in captivity.
Octopus farming is an attempt to farm wild animals who have never been farmed before. In fact, scientists from LSE published a report stating they were "convinced that high-welfare octopus farming is impossible." It is therefore likely that the welfare needs of these remarkable creatures will not be properly met in farms, and they will suffer immensely as a result.
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Drawn from “Dr. Elena Lara. (2021, October). Octopus factory farming: A recipe for disaster. In Compassion in World Farming International.” and “Jacquet, J., Franks, B., Godfrey-Smith, P., & Sánchez-Suárez, W. (2019, season-04). The Case Against Octopus Farming. Issues in Science and Technology.”

OCTOPUS FARM IN THE PRESS

Organisations that back this goal

FARMING NOT VIABLE WITHOUT SUBSIDIES

With this proposed farm, Nueva Pescanova stands to profit handsomely off the backs of Spanish and European taxpayers. Dr. Elena Lara has found that for decades now, the Spanish government has used millions public money to fund research on farming octopuses in captivity — the very research that Nueva Pescanova is using to design its farm.* Furthermore, Dr. Jennifer Jacquet and her research team studied the published research on octopus farming and found that of the 219 relevant articles, the largest single funder was the European Commission (based in Belgium), with 42 mentions acknowledgements across the articles. The second largest individual funding body was the National Advisory Board of Marine Cultivation (JACUMAR) based in Madrid, Spain, with 40 mentions. Significant public money has been invested in this project, despite clear public disapproval (as demonstrated across Europe and around the world on World Octopus Day).

It’s not too late to stop octopus farming. We can make it clear to governments at all levels that we stand in opposition to this farm. As Dr. Jacquet puts it, “Nueva Pescanova does not only need permits from the government, it needs the social license to operate”. So if you are as upset about this proposal as we are, join the protests, sign the petitions, and share the message: Octopus farming is not visionary — it is unsustainable, polluting, and cruel. #StopOctopusFarming

SCIENCE AGAINST OCTOPUS FARMING

Octopus

#StopOctopusFarming

Arguments by
Jacquet, Franks, Godfrey-Smith & Sánchez-Suárez
Report by
Compassion in World Farming
Report by
Jonathan Birch, Charlotte Burn, Alexandra Schnell, Heather Browning and Andrew Crump

“One consequence of understanding the octopus mind should be a refusal to subject octopuses to mass production. ”

Jennifer Jacquet et al, Researcher
“The octopus mind and the argument against farming it”

OCTOPUSES HAVE THREE HEARTS

YOU NEED JUST ONE TO SAVE THEM

Below are actions we've heard about

Ongoing Petitions

Below are links to the eight petitions we have found that have gained most traction. Consider signing them all and if we have missed an important one, let us know.

Spread the message
Please remember to credit the Ocean Culture Life Storytellers who kindly lent their photos to the cause.
Email Action

The Plant Based Treaty group has organised an e-mail action asking the government officials of the Canary Islands to refuse Nueva Pescanova’s application for an environmental permit and stop the octopus farm they have planned.

Learn about this intelligent and fascinating creature

What to watch

My Octopus Teacher
A Netflix original documentary
(2020)

What to read

"The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness” - Sy Montgomery

The soul of an Octopus

What to read

"Other Minds – The Octopus, the sea, and the deep origins of consciousness” - Peter Godfrey-Smith

Other Mind, The Octopus

The largest Octopus Fan Club!

Consider how your individual actions affect the octopus

Pledge not to eat octopus bred in captivity in farms, or better yet, pledge not to eat octopus.

“This is probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. ”

Peter Godfrey-Smith, Author
“Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness”

A special thank you to Compassion in World Farming for bringing this issue to the public with their exhaustive research and reporting, and for their significant collaboration on the campaign to #StopOctopusFarming.