Why Researchers Say Building Octopus Farms Is a Bad Idea

In an analysis published in Science and Technology, a team of researchers concluded that farming octopus would harm both the environment and animals.

As many of us have likely seen in the popular Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher, octopuses are amazing animals. In the film, diver Craig Foster befriends an octopus in South Africa. Foster documents his new friend’s incredible life for a year. “If you gain the trust” of an animal over many months, he told CNN, she will “ignore you to a certain degree,” and go about her daily life. Then you can “step inside” her “secret world.”

Although octopuses are extremely intelligent and emotional, octopus farming is in development in several countries. Octopuses will be forced to live in overcrowded, unnatural, and detrimental conditions that mirror the harsh confinement at other factory farms.

The analysis was co-authored by Jennifer Jacquet, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Becca Franks, and Mercy For Animals collaborator Walter Sanchez-Suarez. 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 do well in captivity. In fact, octopuses currently living on aquatic farms are likely to suffer from high death rates and increased aggression. They are also more likely to experience worse parasitic infections than octopuses not confined to an aquatic farm.

Farming octopuses also takes a toll on the environment. One of the driving forces of overfishing is the process of turning catch into feed for other animals. Because octopuses are carnivores, they require a large supply of feed. Jennifer Jacquet discusses in the analysis how 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. In the analysis, the researchers reach this conclusion:

Right now, the farming of octopus is constrained by the technology, but the technology may well become available to farm octopus at an industrial scale. If such an opportunity comes, we hope that the serious welfare and environmental problems associated with such projects are recognized, and octopus farming is discouraged or prevented. There are better directions for the future of farming.

According to the analysis, nearly 190 countries currently farm around 550 different marine animals. As wild fish populations plummet from overfishing, the use of cruel fish farms is rapidly growing. In fact, nearly half of all the fish people eat come from fish farms.

A recently released Mercy For Animals investigation exposed the horrors of fish farming. The fish were subjected to extreme cruelty—forced to live by the tens of thousands in confinement ponds. The footage also revealed fish cut in half, shocked with electricity, and left to suffocate.

You can help! Learn how you can stand up for marine animals, promote good health, and safeguard future generations at FishFarmReality.com.