Scientists and animal activists continue to oppose the opening of the world's first commercial octopus farm, a project that would be developed in the Canary Islands and promoted by the company Nueva Pescanova. Eurogroup for Animals and Compassion in World Farming, among other organizations, have asked that this idea be discarded, after knowing the details of the project, the treatment that will be given to these animals and the way to sacrifice them, immersing them in icy water between -3 and 0°C.
These organizations are concerned about "the plans, presented to the General Directorate of Fisheries of the Government of the Canary Islands by the company Nueva Pescanova", because they reveal "a cruel method of slaughter, the confinement of octopuses in small sterile tanks and practices that contribute to the overexploitation of wild fish stocks.”
According to this report, around one million octopuses would be reared at the proposed farm in the Port of Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, producing some three thousand tons of octopus each year.
Animal rights activists not only criticize the project, but also the practices proposed by the company, "extremely worrying." Specifically, octopuses would be kept confined in empty and overcrowded underwater tanks, which "will result in poor welfare and risk of aggression, territorialism and even cannibalism due to the natural solitary nature."
The octopuses, according to the plans presented, would also be fed commercial feeds that contain fishmeal and fish oil as main ingredients, "which is unsustainable and contributes to overfishing of wild populations," say Eurogroup for Animals and Compassion in World Farming. , two of the groups with the greatest projection in Europe for the defense of animals.
These groups explain that the octopuses would be exposed to unnatural light 24 hours a day to increase reproduction, causing undue stress given the aversion that these animals have to light.
The animalists focus on the "cruel" way of sacrificing the octopuses, which would be submerged in icy water between -3 and 0 °C, "a highly aversive and scientifically proven inhumane method that causes considerable pain, fear and suffering as well as prolonged death. “It will inflict unnecessary suffering on these fascinating, sensitive and intelligent creatures, who need to explore and engage with the environment as part of their natural behaviour,” warns Eurogroup for Animals CEO Reineke Hameleers.
The organizations also denounce the farming proposed by the company, which wants to use an aquaculture system on land, which it already presented in 2019, and which would be "related to a greater risk of mass mortality due to the overcrowded conditions required for its profitability, as well as the negative environmental impacts derived from the excessive use of energy”.
In addition, they ask the European Union (EU) not to use public funds to support the development of octopus farming, or any other new industrial animal-based farming due to "growing significant scientific evidence" indicating a strong environmental impact.
Both organizations have been opposing the opening of the world's first commercial octopus farm, which would be located in the Port of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. In 2021, Compassion in World Farming published 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 raise octopuses suggest that the mortality rate in these systems would be around 20%, which means that one in five individuals would not survive the entire production cycle.
It is not the only industrial fish farm projected at the moment. Animalists remember that there are attempts to establish similar octopus farms in other parts of the world such as Mexico and Japan.