Day: March 16, 2023

England: CIWF – Uncovering the horrific reality of octopus farming.

Uncovering the horrific reality of octopus farming

16 March 2023


Eurogroup for Animals and Compassion in World Farming are calling for the world’s first commercial octopus farm to be scrapped, after plans obtained for its development revealed the animal cruelty and environmental consequences it would cause. Furthermore, they are calling on the EU not to use public funds to support octopus farming developments, or any other new industrial animal-based farming in the light of significant and growing scientific evidence that it is killing our planet.

The plans, submitted to the General Directorate of Fishing of the Government of the Canary Islands by the company Nueva Pescanova, and uncovered by Eurogroup for Animals, have raised serious concerns. These include the use of a cruel slaughter method, the confinement of octopuses in small barren tanks, and practices that contribute to the overexploitation of wild fish populations. The campaigners’ concerns over the plans are outlined in the new report Uncovering the horrific reality of octopus farming and confirmed by scientists in the field. 

They reveal that around one million octopuses will be reared at the proposed farm in the Port of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, Spain, producing some 3,000 tonnes of octopus each year. 

They also confirm the campaigners’ fears that a number of extremely concerning practices would be implemented, including that octopuses would be:

Slaughtered using cruel ice slurry: a highly aversive and 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.

In 2021, Compassion in World Farming released the report Octopus Factory Farming: A Recipe for Disaster, arguing that octopus farming is cruel and would cause environmental damage to our oceans. According to the report, experimental trials to farm octopuses suggest that the mortality rate in these systems would be around 20%, meaning that 1 in 5 individuals would not survive the entire production cycle.

Although, if approved, the Canary Islands farm would be the world’s first industrial octopus farm, there are attempts to establish similar octopus farms in other parts of the world such as Mexico and Japan. In February, Washington State in the US signalled a move toward banning octopus farming, which would be the first of its kind. This followed the recent closure of the only active octopus farm in the US, the “Kanaloa Octopus Farm” based in Hawaii, in response to Compassion in World Farming’s campaign. 

Octopus has become an increasingly popular food in recent decades, particularly in Spain. As a result, wild octopus numbers are dwindling. In 2015, the number of octopuses caught around the world reached a high of 400,000 tonnes – 10 times more than in 1950.

Blindly establishing a new farming system without consideration of the ethical and environmental implications is a step in all the wrong directions and flies in the face of the EU’s plans for a sustainable food transformation. With the current revision of the animal welfare legislation, the European Commission now has the real opportunity to avoid the terrible suffering of millions of animals. We cannot afford to leave aquatic animals behind. We’re calling on the EU to include a ban on octopus farming before it ever sees the light of day, in order to avoid plunging more sentient beings into a living hell.

Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals

We implore the Canary Islands authorities to reject Nueva Pescanova’s plans and we urge the EU to ban octopus farming as part of its current legislative review. It will inflict unnecessary suffering on these intelligent, sentient and fascinating creatures, which need to explore and engage with the environment as part of their natural behaviour. Their carnivorous diets require huge quantities of animal protein to sustain, contributing to overfishing at a time when fish stocks are already under immense pressure. Factory farming is the biggest single cause of animal cruelty on the planet, and it’s literally destroying our planet. We should be ending factory farming, not finding new species to confine in underwater factory farms. We must end octopus farming now.

Elena Lara, Research Manager at Compassion in World Farming

Uncovering the horrific reality of octopus farming


Regards Mark

Spain: Press Release – Animal welfare NGOs expose bull’s mistreatment: transport company fined.

Animal welfare NGOs expose bull’s mistreatment: transport company fined

15 March 2023


Press Release

In 2020, the young bull Ferdinand was supposed to be loaded onto a substandard livestock vessel at the port of Cartagena, Spain. However, he was unfit for travel, unable to move and heavily mistreated. Workers subjected him to prolonged electric shocks and kicking. Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) filed a complaint against the transport company and veterinarian authorities, based on evidence collected together with Animals International and Welfarm. The investigation that followed the complaint revealed further violations. The export company in charge is one of the largest in Spain and has now been fined 4,500 Euros.

AWF filed an administrative complaint in 2020, and the case was classified as two serious administrative offences with major infringements of the transport regulation. The infringements were secondary and rather formal findings and are not directly related to animal abuse. They include lacking coordination between the different stages of the transport and a lack of communication which made it impossible to properly inspect all the animals.

In July 2020, Animal Welfare Foundation, Animals International and Welfarm witnessed and filmed how young bulls from different European countries were loaded from trucks onto a livestock vessel that exported them from Cartagena to Benghazi, Libya. One of them, a French bull who was named Ferdinand by the investigators, was injured and too weak to walk. At this point, he should have been euthanised on the spot. However, although clearly unfit for travel, workers forced him out of the truck by dragging him with a rope. Later, he was forced inside again because he was unable to walk through the vessel ramp. 

After the stressful procedure, the driver left the port and parked the truck at a petrol station nearby, with Ferdinand inside in the blazing sun, to take a prolonged lunch break. At this point, the NGOs called the police, who were not able to identify violations immediately and had to let the driver proceed.

Animal welfare NGOs call for ban of live exports and stronger penalties for violators

Ferdinand’s case is only one out of many, and highlights the systematic failure of animal welfare during transport. The organiser did not coordinate the arrival of the trucks properly and veterinarians had no chance to control the process correctly. A few months after the incident, the vessel (ABEER K, formerly ETAB) was detained in Raša, Croatia, due to severe deficiencies. Some of those can affect animal welfare onboard, such as the water conditions, structural conditions and fire safety.

The importance of animal welfare in livestock transport was once again underscored recently in an audit report on Spain’s livestock transport industry. The audit found that many sea transporters follow generic contingency plans that are unlikely to protect the welfare of animals during emergencies. Additionally, there is an insufficient number of official staff during loading, and delays in loading can create risks for the welfare of the animals, as they lack proper facilities to rest, feed, and water animals. New legislation will not be able to solve the defective nature of live transports.

“The suffering of the bull was obvious, but not even mentioned in the administrative verdict file. The procedure was carried out with clear opacity and lack of coordination by the competent body. We do not know whether the investigative measures we requested were carried out”, says Maria BoadaSaña, Project Manager at Animal Welfare Foundation. “I hope that the ruling in the Ferdinand case will encourage stronger penalties for those who violate the regulations. We have been making this point for years. There is a notable lack of controls by veterinarian authorities, and examining one violation will often lead to other findings.”

Gabriel Paun, EU Director at Animals International, adds that “Ferdinand’s injuries were so severe that he was unable to walk, and yet he was still subjected to prolonged electric shocks and kicking. He was then pulled by a tractor on a rope to get him back into the truck. After that, he melted in pain and heat at a petrol station in bright sun while the driver enjoyed his lunch. This is not just a violation of regulations; it is a moral and ethical issue that needs to be addressed.”

Adrienne Bonnet, Head of Campaign, Advocacy and Legal Department at Welfarm, states: “It is sad to see a French animal end up in such a situation. The member states of the European Union need to address animal welfare issues in a joint effort. From the approval of transport vehicles to slaughter methods in third countries, such situations can only be prevented if live transports of long duration within and from the EU are stopped.”

Without the intervention of the three NGOs, the case would not have been exposed at all. This leaves transport companies with the impression of an acceptable risk: The sanctions for bad practices are not strong enough to act better in the future, even if they are considered major infringements.

NGOs call for a ban of live exports altogether. Many member states of the European Union use Spain as a loophole to send their animals from industries that would otherwise not be as profitable to third countries.

Regards Mark