Deeply Disturbing Side of Octopus Farming: A Professor’s Perspective
Octopus farming has become an increasingly popular industry, with a global market value estimated to be over $3 billion.
However, as the industry expands, there is a deeply disturbing side to octopus farming that the public does not commonly discuss.
Octopus is widely used as an ingredient in various cuisines. People capture around 420,000 metric tons of this type of mollusk annually worldwide.
This surge in global demand for octopus has connections to the expanding palates of younger generations, its advantageous nutritional qualities, and the depletion of conventional fish populations like cod.
The above information clarifies why Nueva Pescanova, a food processing company, intends to construct the planet’s first indoor octopus farm in Gran Canaria.
To begin farming octopuses with full knowledge of their capacity for experience is morally grotesque, and it must be stopped. My latest for @FastCompany. https://t.co/ZadelLvJDD
— Brian Kateman (@BrianKateman) March 27, 2023
Their plan entails creating a facility with a thousand tanks to yield 3,000 tons of octopus annually. Octopuses are a lucrative aquaculture option because they can gain up to 5% of their body mass daily, even though breeding them in captivity is challenging.
The Issues with Octopus Farming
One of the main issues with octopus farming is the high mortality rates of the animals. Octopuses are highly intelligent creatures with complex nervous systems and the ability to solve problems and even use tools.
However, in captivity, they often suffer from stress, disease, and injury, which can lead to premature death. In addition, the methods used to catch wild octopuses for breeding stock can also be highly destructive.
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For example, some fishermen use cyanide to stun the animals, killing many octopuses outright and damaging the surrounding ecosystem.
According to Nueva Pescanova, they have achieved a significant scientific advancement that enables them to cultivate consecutive generations of Octopus Vulgaris, commonly known as the Atlantic common octopus.
The company claims that octopus farming will lower the need for fishing techniques like sea-bed trawling and guarantee a consistent source of “ocean-based food” while easing the burden on natural fishing areas.
Based on their exceptional intelligence and playful nature, researchers have proposed that octopuses are unsuitable for captivity and industrial-scale breeding.
Encouraging to see such broad support for banning octopus farms — even from people in the marine science community with whom I bitterly disagree.
A rare consensus is forming, to which only the most extremist exploitationists object.https://t.co/kBAag18LLy
— spencer 🐠 (@Unpop_Science) March 26, 2023
Consequently, animal rights activists contend that cultivating octopuses on farms would result in unnecessary cruelty on an unprecedented level.
Typically, gas chambers or electrical stunning are employed to euthanize land animals. However, concerned organizations have raised objections concerning highly sentient and large-brained species such as cows and pigs.
This issue was the subject of a controversial discussion in the UK parliament, resulting in the formal recognition of the sentience of many sea animals, including crabs, lobsters, and octopuses, in the 2022 Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act.
Octopus as Sentient Animals
Some studies indicate that octopuses possess intelligence equivalent to cats, a species that people commonly consider pets and do not consume. Therefore, the question arises as to why octopuses are part of our diet while cats are not.
One plausible explanation is our struggle to connect with octopuses due to their mysterious personalities and aquatic bodies, which resemble tiny sea monsters with multiple tentacles and protruding eyes.
Mollusks are generally not viewed as adorable, and seeing them as companionable or amicable is challenging, despite the abundant scientific evidence of their diverse behavioral patterns.
Moreover, the farming of octopuses also raises ethical concerns. Octopuses are highly intelligent and sentient animals, capable of experiencing pain and suffering. Yet, the harvesters often kept in cramped tanks or shipped them live to markets in other countries.
This treatment is inhumane and goes against the principles of animal welfare. Octopus farming may seem lucrative and sustainable, but the reality is far more complex.
This industry is deeply disturbing because of the high mortality rates and destructive catching methods. The impact on wild populations, ethical concerns, and lack of transparency is also alarming.
As consumers and scientists, we must push for greater transparency and ethical standards in octopus farming. This way, we can ensure we are not sacrificing animals and the environment for profit.