Scientists Warn Against World’s First Commercial Octopus Farm

Because octopuses have feelings just like any other animal, scientists and a coalition of organizations are calling on the Canary Island government to halt plans for constructing the world’s first commercial octopus farm. 

Spanish company Nueva Pescanova has invested over 72 million dollars to build the facility in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands. According to the company, the farm would force octopuses to live in extreme confinement and kill a million of them every year by placing them in near-freezing water. 

Torturous Living Conditions

Nueva Pescanova admits they would force the naturally solitary octopuses, who are used to the dark, to live under prolonged bright light in cramped, barren tanks with around 10 or 15 others. Forcing these territorial animals who naturally avoid each other to live close together is especially cruel.

Confining animals in such unnatural environments often leads to psychological distress and abnormal behaviors such as cannibalism, self-injury, and premature death. Even Nueva Pescanova predicts that 10%–15% of the octopuses will die before they reach slaughter.

several dead octopus in a container with ice.

Prolonged, Painful Slaughter

Octopuses can feel pain, stress, and fear. Despite this, Nueva Pescanova plans to slaughter these intelligent animals by immersing them in near-freezing water known as an “ice slurry,” which will kill the octopuses slowly.

Prof. Peter Tse, a cognitive neuroscientist at Dartmouth University, says that ice slurry is “very cruel” and should not be allowed. In fact, several studies have shown that this method of killing fish results in a slow, stressful death. Animal welfare concerns have even prompted some grocery stores to stop selling fish from suppliers who use this slaughter method. 

“Large numbers of octopuses should never be kept together in close proximity. Doing this leads to stress, conflict and high mortality. … A figure of 10%–15% mortality should not be acceptable for any kind of farming.” 

—Prof. Peter Tse
wild octopus underwater looking at the camera.

What Comes Next?

Octopuses aren’t the only aquatic animals raised in cruel farms. An eel farm in the United States began operations in January, and most fish that people eat come from cruel and filthy factory farms. But given the increase in politicians and concerned individuals pushing to stop construction of new industrial animal farms and slaughterhouses, the decision to move forward with the octopus farm is out of touch with the times.

The best thing we can do to help octopuses and all animals is to choose plant-based foods. With all the delicious plant-based products out there, making the switch is easier than ever.

You can also take action against octopus farming by signing this petition to boycott the Canary Islands until their government has stopped Nueva Pescanova’s plans.