Animal protection organisations are calling for the world’s first commercial octopus farm proposed in Spain to be scrapped because of the animal suffering and environmental consequences it would cause. Compassion in World Farming and Eurogroup for Animals have joined forces to produce a new report titled “Uncovering the horrific reality of octopus farming” highlighting everything that is wrong with the proposed farm. They also call on the EU not to use public funds to support octopus farming developments or any other new industrial animal-based farming.
The company Nueva Pescanova has submitted plans for this octopus farm to the General Directorate of Fishing of the Government of the Canary Islands (an autonomous region of Spain), which show they intend to keep one million octopuses in a facility in the Port of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. Such plans have caused concerns due to the use of a cruel slaughter method, the confinement of octopuses in small barren tanks, and practices that will contribute to the overexploitation of wild fish populations (as octopuses will be fed by fish). The group’s concerns over the plans are outlined in a new report called Uncovering the horrific reality of octopus farming.
The key animal welfare concerns the report highlights are:
- Slaughtered using cruel ice slurry: a highly aversive, inhumane method scientifically proven to cause considerable pain, fear and suffering as well as a prolonged death.
- Confined in crowded, barren underwater tanks that will result in poor welfare and risk aggression, territorialism and even cannibalism due to the octopuses’ naturally solitary nature.
- Exposed to round-the-clock unnatural light to increase reproduction, which will cause undue stress given the aversion these animals have to light.
- Fed with commercial feeds containing fishmeal and fish oil as main ingredients, which is unsustainable and contributes to the overfishing of wild populations.
- Raised within a land-based aquaculture system relating to higher risk of mass mortality due to the overcrowded conditions required for their profitability as well as negative environmental impacts stemming from the excessive use of energy.
There are attempts to establish similar octopus farms in other parts of the world such as Japan and Mexico.