From 2023, 3000 tons of octopus meat could be produced annually on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria.
Science and animal welfare protest. Because octopuses are highly intelligent and sensitive
Octopuses are amazing creatures.
With their eight arms and sac-like body, they appear alien – and yet they are more similar to us humans than most vertebrates: they have an excellent memory, they plan, deceive, play.
They manage to open child-resistant screw caps.
They even have distinct personalities, being shy, curious, or reckless.
They have likes or dislikes of their own kind as well as people.
And something else makes octopuses special: they are difficult to reproduce in captivity. But that’s exactly what a Spanish company has managed to do.
According to the Nueva Pescanova Group, octopuses could be bred for several generations in their own aquaculture for the first time.
In the summer of 2022, the first animals should come onto the market.
President of the Las Palmas Port Authority port Luis Ibarra said “it was the biggest private Investment in the history of the port which will create 450 jobs and make the Las Palmas Harbour-La Luz- the world`s biggest exporter of octopus”
From 2023, 3,000 tons of octopus meat (!!) are to be produced annually on the Spanish Canary Island of Gran Canaria, for example for popular dishes such as “Pulpo a la Gallega”.
The company is investing around 65 million euros in the project. The targeted main customer countries are Spain, Italy, Greece and Japan.
Does aquaculture relieve the marine ecosystems?
It is estimated that around 350,000 tons of octopus are caught and processed worldwide every year – about ten times as much as in 1950.
The Nueva Pescanova Group argues that the number of wild catches can be reduced by around ten percent with production in aquaculture.
Whether the pressure on wild populations caused by factory farming will actually decrease is anything but clear.
Biologists and animal rights activists warn – on the contrary – that aquaculture is increasing the pressure on marine ecosystems. Because many edible fish are – like octopuses – carnivores.
Already today, around a third of the global catches are fed to animals, around half of them in aquaculture.
According to critics, it is also certain that octopuses cannot be kept anywhere near species-appropriate in aquaculture.
Unlike fish, the intelligent octopuses in their water tanks would be aware of their hopeless situation.
And they are loners.
It seems unlikely that this elementary need of the animals is taken into account in mass aquaculture.
Especially since there are hardly any legal regulations for keeping them: Most national and EU keeping requirements relate to vertebrates.
Housing conditions and method of killing: unknown
It is also to be feared that speed is more important than avoiding stress and pain when slaughtering on assembly lines.
When asked by the British BBC, the company declined to comment on the husbandry of the octopuses, the origin of the food or the killing method.
As early as 2019, scientists had declared that breeding octopuses in captivity for food purposes was a “terrible idea”.
And not only from an environmental point of view, but also from a moral point of view.
The company is yet to reveal exactly what the octopus tanks look like, what “toys” they claim to use for stimulation and what source of food they will rely on
On paper, however, the claims are noble.
According to the authors, keeping octopuses in aquaculture with high animal welfare standards is “impossible”.
The clever cephalopods already enjoy better legal protection in the United Kingdom than in Spain.
Experts there had viewed more than 300 scientific studies – and had come to the conclusion that octopuses were “sentient beings”.
There is “strong scientific evidence” that animals can feel joy, but also pain, stress and despair.
The scientific assessment led to the inclusion of the animals in the Animal Welfare Bill.
And I mean…In a year when many countries have passed laws protecting species they believe are sentient beings, the news that the world’s first octopus farm has opened in the Canary Islands have understandably been met with shock, disgust and outrage around the world for every compassionate and civilized human being.
For the thousands of these animals will be bred and imprisoned in cruel, prison-like conditions.
Just like any animal in factory farming.
Known as the “Einsteins of the sea”, octopuses have large, complex brains.
In fact, they have nine: one central brain between the eyes and separate mini-brains at the base of each tentacle – meaning that each arm, quite literally, has a mind of its own.
They can navigate their way through mazes and remember the solutions.
They are solitary, territorial animals, as curious as humans, and cramming them into barren communal tanks or netted pools, with little or no stimulation – as is common of all factory farm systems – would condemn them to a miserable existence.
All agree that octopuses would suffer dreadfully in such conditions.
To make matters worse, there is currently no legislation in Spain, or elsewhere, to protect octopus welfare on farms or during their slaughter.
In reality, the farm – close to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria – means countless animals will spend their lives vulnerable to pain and suffering, and endure agonising deaths.
The solution, of course, is to stop eating octopuses – and, indeed, all animals.
Even if they’re not farmed, octopuses captured for food still suffer: they are often speared or burned with caustic chemicals to force them out of specialised traps.
Many are snared in massive, indiscriminate trawl nets.
On deck, if they’re not left to suffocate in agony, they’re clubbed, stabbed, or butchered alive.
To allow the world’s very first octopus factory farm to open, when we know and understand the impact it would have on these intelligent, feeling beings, would be a monstrous act and a shame on the Canary Islands government.
We must act quickly to prevent this farm from being built.
As soon as we have a petition about this, we will inform you further.
My best regards to all, Venus