Scientists, celebrities and interfaith leaders decry octopus farm as ‘unsustainable, polluting and cruel’
LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA, Spain (Oct. 7, 2022) — Plant Based Treaty, In Defense of Animals and Ocean Born Foundation, along with scientists, authors and celebrities, are urging the Spanish government to take a stand against octopus farming and block plans by the multinational Nueva Pescanova to open the world’s first octopus farm in 2023.
Protests will occur outside Spanish Embassies, restaurants selling octopuses and aquariums on Saturday, October 8, in more than 20 locations, including Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Edmonton, Gran Canaria, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Mexico City and Mumbai.
Author Sy Montgomery will be performing an online book reading from The Soul of an Octopus on Saturday, October 8th at 12pm EST. She says, “Killing someone as sensitive, emotional, and intelligent as an octopus to eat is about as wasteful as burning Renaissance masterpieces to cook dinner.”
Jennifer Jacquet, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at New York University who submitted a formal objection to the planning process in the Canary Islands, said, “The government has authorized the Pescanova factory, which will be subsidized by taxpayers to mass produce octopuses for luxury markets. This is not visionary — it is unsustainable, polluting, and cruel. There is still time to reverse the decision. We have to stop octopus farming before it begins.”
Paul Wesley, actor and Plant Based Treaty endorser, said, “Octopuses are one of the most fascinatingly beautiful creatures on Earth. They are wildly intelligent, sentient beings capable of high-level cognitive behaviors. The idea of creating an ‘octopus farm’ where they will be tortured their entire lives and killed for the sake of mass profit is beyond devastating and mind-boggling. We must stop the company Nueva Pescanova from committing this horrific moral atrocity. ”
Jonathan Balcombe, PhD, biologist and author of What a Fish Knows, said, “Science shows that octopuses are sentient beings–conscious individuals with personalities, interests, and feelings. The idea of farming them for human consumption has no place in modern society.”
More than 4500 Plant Based Treaty supporters have written to officials in the Canary Islands asking them to block plans submitted by Nueva Pescanova to build the world’s first commercial octopus farm. In addition, more than 55,000 supporters have signed a petition calling on the Governments of Spain and Gran Canaria to intervene to stop octopus farming and recognize octopuses as sentient beings.
Interfaith leaders from more than 30 NGOs have signed an open letter calling for an end to octopus farms to avert the climate and ocean crisis. The letter states “Octopuses are God’s creatures and are incredible animals that should be treated with love and kindness, not imprisoned and slaughtered. They should never be stuck inside tanks, raised on farms, eaten, or abused in any way. These eight-armed geniuses are playful, inquisitive, sensitive, determined and just like every other animal on this planet, worthy of our protection.”
Anita Krajnc, Plant Based Treaty global campaign coordinator, said “Octopus have three hearts, but we can save them with one. The best way to celebrate World Octopus Day would be to recognize their sentience in law and ban all octopus farms like the one planned by the multinational company Nueva Pescanova. There are plenty of delicious and nutritious plant-based seafood alternatives that could save fishes and octopuses and relieve ocean crisis.”
Nicola Harris, Plant Based Treaty Communications director, said “Scientists, NGOs, interfaith leaders are all united in the belief octopus farming is a disaster for both the octopus victims and eco system breakdown. The Plant Based Treaty calls for a halt to the expansion of animal agriculture and a shift to plant-based diets so that we can live safely within our planetary boundaries.”
Katie Nolan, In Defense of Animals campaigner, said “Our members are horrified by Spain’s plans to open the world’s first octopus factory farm just as we are beginning to recognize the breathtaking intelligence and individualism of this fellow species. Octopuses are such fascinating creatures, and we are happy that eminent scientists, politicians, and celebrities are joining our movement to end the cruelties of slaughtering them for food.”
Carolina Manhusen Schwab, Ocean Born Foundation President said “In addition to the many alarming ethical questions around intensive farming of octopuses, the Ocean Born Foundation finds that the farm contravenes the EU Strategic Aquaculture Guidelines. Feeding the octopuses will increase pressure on already depleted wild fish populations, exacerbated by the fact that it takes 3 kg of feed to yield 1 kg of octopus meat…. Their carnivorous diets are unsustainable for the environment and a highly inefficient and wasteful way to produce food.”
The Spanish company Nueva Pescanova has invested about $63 million to build the world’s first commercial octopus farm in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands. Shockingly, over the last few years, demand for the consumption of octopuses has been rising dramatically in several Mediterranean countries in Europe, as well as in Asia, Mexico and the United States. As a direct consequence of this increased consumer demand, food industries are keen to farm octopuses in captivity.
Octopus is offered on many menus and in grocery stores worldwide. Researchers estimate that about 50,000 tons of octopus are caught each year. Yet there are currently no laws in Europe, the U.S., Mexico or Japan to protect farmed octopuses from suffering, particularly from abhorrent killing methods. Nueva Pescanova has refused to explain how the octopuses will be raised or killed. However, wild-caught octopuses are typically killed by clubbing their heads, cutting into their brains without anesthetic, asphyxiation in a net, or chilling in ice. Scientists have also been studying three new slaughter methods:
Chemical methods – an overdose of magnesium chloride, ethanal and clove oil.
Mechanical methods – the destruction of the brain by cutting between the eyes or decapitating.
Electrical methods – electrocution of octopuses by passing an electric current through their body.
Octopuses are intelligent, sentient animals capable of feeling emotions like joy, pain, and fear. Scientific research has evidenced that octopuses experience a range of moods, from grumpy to playful, just as humans do, and show remarkable curiosity and problem-solving abilities. Octopus use tools, plan ahead and even befriend other species.