Breaking: Washington State Bans Octopus Farming

Yesterday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed HB 1153 into law, and Washington became the first state to prohibit farming octopuses! This is a huge win for animals and the planet. 

Sponsored by Representative Peterson, the new law is an opportunity to prohibit octopus farming in Washington before it starts. As part of a coalition, Mercy For Animals sent out action alerts and emails urging volunteers to stand up in support of this important bill. Our senior state policy manager, Alex Cerussi, even testified before the Washington State Legislature:

Octopus possess the ability to experience pain, stress, and fear. All animals with these capacities deserve to be protected. … Washington has always been a leader in animal welfare and environmental protection, which is why the legislature must take a stand against this inherently cruel and unsustainable practice.

What is octopus farming?

Just like other forms of factory farming, octopus farming entails raising animals for slaughter in crowded spaces with little room to move. This is especially cruel for octopuses, as these solitary, territorial animals naturally avoid one another and prefer to live in dark, quiet places.

How does octopus farming impact animals?

In an analysis published in Science and Technology, a team of researchers concludes that farming octopuses would harm both the environment and animals. One of the study’s authors, Jennifer Jacquet, states:

Universities and companies are investing time and money into farming octopus, which we believe is a big mistake. Mass producing octopus would repeat many of the same mistakes we made on land in terms of high environmental and animal welfare impacts.

Octopuses do not fare well in captivity. In fact, octopuses currently living at aquatic farms are likely to suffer high death rates and increased aggression. They are also likely to experience worse parasitic infections than octopuses in nature.

How does octopus farming impact the environment?

Farming octopuses takes a toll on the environment. A driving force of overfishing is turning catch into feed for other animals. Because octopuses are carnivores, they require other animals to eat. Jennifer Jacquet explains that octopus farming could cause more harm than other forms of farming because “we have to feed octopus other animals.” 

Additionally, octopus farming produces high levels of pollution from feces and uneaten feed. Aquaculture facilities for octopuses will create an increased risk of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff that contributes to environmental pollution and disrupts delicate local marine ecosystems.

Learn more about our policy work HERE.