Stop Octopus Farming

World Octopus Day Letters 2023.

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.



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 Farm Spain


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


captive octopuses each year”


“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”



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.”


Organisations that back this goal


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




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
Report by
Eurogroup for Animals & Compassion in World Farming

“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”



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.

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

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.

  1. ABRAMS Peter, University of Toronto, Canada
  2. AINLEY David, Marine Ecologist, USA
  3. AL-ABDULRAZZAK Dalal, Vericatch, Canada
  4. ALAVA Juan Jose, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Canada, &
    Fundacion Ecuatoriana para el Estudio de Mamiferos Marinos (FEMM), Ecuador
  5. ARECHAVALA-LOPEZ Pablo, Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies, Spain
  6. ATHANASSAKIS Yanoula, New York University, USA
  7. BAKER Liv, Hunter College, USA
  8. BEKOFF Marc, University of Colorado, USA
  9. BERGHMANS Federico, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  10. BERGSTROM Carl, Department of Biology, University of Washington, USA
  11. BOLGER Niall, Columbia University, USA
  12. BROAD Kenneth, University of Miami, USA
  13. BROOKS Cassandra, University of Colorado Boulder, USA
  14. BROTZ Lucas, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Canada
  15. BROWNING Heather, Australian National University, Australia
  16. CASAL Paula, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, Spain
  17. CARRETERO-GONZÁLEZ Margarita, Universidad de Granada, Spain
  18. CHAUDHURI Una, New York University, USA
  19. CLARK Stephen R.L., University of Liverpool (Professor Emeritus), UK
  20. CRAMER Katie, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA
  21. DAVIES Ben, University of Oxford, UK
  22. DELON Nicolas, New College of Florida, USA
  23. DENNETT Daniel, Tufts University, USA
  24. DONALDSON Brianne, Rice University, USA
  25. DOYLE Rebecca, University of Melbourne, Australia
  26. ESTES, James, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
  27. FENTON Andrew, Dalhousie University, Canada
  28. FISCHER Bob, Texas State University, USA
  29. FONSECA Rui, Centro de Investigação e Estudos de Sociologia (CIES-IUL), Portugal
  30. FRASER David, Animal Welfare Program, University of British Columbia, Canada
  31. FROESE Rainer, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Germany
  32. GAGLIANO Monica, University of Sydney, Australia
  33. GLASER Sarah, One Earth Future, USA
  34. GRUEN Lori, William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, Wesleyan University, USA
  35. GUPTA Kristin, Rice University, USA
  36. HALTEMAN Matthew C., Calvin College, USA
  37. HAYEK Matthew, Harvard University, USA
  38. HERRMANN Kathrin, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA
  39. HIGGINS E. Tory, Columbia University, USA
  40. HINTZE Sara, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna BOKU, Austria
  41. HOROWITZ Alexandra, Barnard College, USA
  42. ILEA Ramona, Professor of Philosophy, Pacific University Oregon, USA – Animal Sentience 2019.271: Jacquet, Franks & Godfrey-Smith on Mather on Octopus Mind
  43. JACKSON Jeremy B.C., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA
  44. JAMIESON Dale, Department of Environmental Studies, New York University, USA
  45. JEROLMACK Colin, New York University, USA
  46. JOHN Tyler M., Philosophy, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, USA
  47. JOHNS Brandon, California State University – San Bernardino, USA
  48. JOHNSON Ayana, Ocean Collectiv, USA
  49. JOHNSON Syd, Michigan Technological University, USA
  50. JOST John T., New York University, USA
  51. KILLOREN David, Australian Catholic University, Australia
  52. KNEBA Elliot, Veterinarian, England
  53. KRISTENSEN Bjørn, University of Oregon, USA
  54. LERNER Adam, New York University Center for Bioethics, USA
  55. MAKOWSKA Joanna, University of British Columbia, Canada
  56. MARINO Lori, Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, USA
  57. MCCAULEY Douglas, University of California Santa Barbara, USA
  58. MCCLENACHAN Loren, Colby College, USA
  59. MCDERMID Sonali, New York University, USA
  60. MELOTTI Luca, University of Münster, Germany
  61. MIGUENS Sofia, University of Porto, Portugal
  62. MILINSKI Manfred, Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, Germany
  63. MULÀ Anna, Foundation Franz Weber, Spain
  64. NAGY Kelsi, Colorado State University, USA
  65. NOTARBARTOLO DI SCIARA Giuseppe, Tethys Research Institute, Milano, Italy
  66. ORMANDY Elisabeth, Animals in Science Policy Institute, Canada
  67. OVEN Alice, University of Winchester, UK
  68. PAEZ Eze, University of Minho, Portugal & UPF-Centre for Animal Ethics, Spain
  69. PALOMARES Deng, Institute of Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Canada
  70. PARDALOU Androniki, School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
  71. PAULY Daniel, University of British Columbia, Canada
  72. PENG Guo, Philosophy Department, Shandong University, China
  73. PICKETT Susana, University of Leicester, UK
  74. POLICARPO Verónica, Instituto de Ciéncias Sociais (ICS), Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
  75. PROUDFOOT Kathryn, Ohio State University, USA
  76. PULEO Alicia, Philosophy Department of the Universidad de Valladolid, Spain
  77. RADER Priscilla, Animal League Defense Fund, USA
  78. RAJAN Kanaka, Princeton University, USA
  79. REISS Diana, Hunter College, USA
  80. RIESER Alison, University of Hawaii, USA
  81. ROBERTS Callum, University of York, UK
  82. RYAN Erin, British Columbia Animal Welfare Program, Canada
  83. SAFINA Carl, Stony Brook University, USA
  84. SALA Enric, National Geographic Society, USA
  85. SARAIVA Joao L., Fish Ethology and Welfare Group, CCMAR, Portugal
  86. SCHANZ Lisa, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) Vienna, Austria
  87. SCHENKENFELDER Josef, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria
  88. SCHLOTTMANN Christopher, Department of Environmental Studies, NYU, USA
  89. SEBO Jeff, New York University, USA
  90. SHRIVER Adam, Oxford Uehrio Centre for Practical Ethics, UK
    Animal Sentience 2019.271: Jacquet, Franks & Godfrey-Smith on Mather on Octopus Mind
  91. SINGER Peter, Princeton University, USA
  92. SMUTS Barbara, Psychology, University of Michigan (Professor Emeritus), USA
  93. SOMMERS Tamler, Philosophy, University of Houston, USA
  94. SUDER Billo Heinzpeter, President, Guarantor Fish Ethology and Welfare Group, Germany
  95. TAFALLA Marta, Philosophy Department, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
  96. TAVELLA Elizabeth, University of Chicago, USA
  97. THIYAGARAJAN Nandini, New York University, USA
  98. TSIKLIRAS Athanassios, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
  99. TUMINELLO Joseph, McNeese State University, USA
  100. VENTURA Beth, University of Minnesota, USA
  101. VOLSTORF Jenny, Fish Ethology and Welfare Group, Germany
  102. VOLTES Adrià, Antropologia de la Vida Animal (Institut Català d’Antropologia), Spain
  103. WATLING Les, University of Hawaii, USA
  104. WEBB Christine, Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, USA
  105. WINCKLER Christoph, University Natural Resources & Life Sciences Vienna, Austria
  106. WINTER Drew, Rice University, USA
  107. ZAVITZ Tayler, University of Victoria, Canada
  108. ZOLLITSCH Werner, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria
  109. ZOZAYA Stephen, James Cook University, Australia