Lady Freethinker has signed onto a letter to the European Union, along with more than 30 other environmental and welfare organizations, urging a ban on cruel, commercial octopus farming — continuing our call to stop the world’s first-ever octopus “farm.”
Saturday, Oct. 8, was World Octopus Day — and it’s more important now than ever that we speak up for these sensitive, intelligent, and complex sea dwellers.
The letter sent to EU leadership links to a new report from Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) that notes octopuses are profoundly unsuited to commercial farming, with serious welfare and environmental repercussions.
“This World Octopus Day, we should be celebrating these incredible wild animals rather than allowing them to be confined in an underwater factory farm,” said CIWF’s Research Manager Elena Lara. “It’s time to end factory farming – not expand it.”
LFT wrote a petition on behalf of octopuses last year, as soon as we learned that Spanish corporation Nueva Pescanova had announced their plans to breed and raise octopuses under undisclosed conditions, with stated goals of slaughtering up to 3,000 tonnes (a metric equivalent to a bit more than a U.S. ton) per year.
By our estimates, that meant that up to 60,000 octopuses would be slaughtered each year — while other organizations have put the future deaths as high as 300,0000 octopuses annually.
We sent our petition, which has since been signed by more than 40,000 people, to Nueva Pescanova, the Spanish and Canadian governments, and the European Union.
In response to our petition, Christos Economou, the acting director of the European Commission’s Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Directorate, told Lady Freethinker that “The Commission agrees that farming carnivorous animals such as octopuses may possibly risk adding pressure on the environment, in particular on wild fish stocks.”
Those concerns are echoed in the open letter to the EU, which reports commercial octopus farming conflicts with the European Green Deal and the EU’s aims to shift aquaculture to lower trophic species — such as plants — and marine animals with a lower environmental footprint.
Octopuses, as carnivorous species, would need to consume at least 3 kilos of feed for every 1 kilo of their “meat,” according to the letter.
“Given the global problems with overfishing and the intensification of aquaculture, the EU should do more to lead the way in transitioning to a truly sustainable aquaculture selector which focuses lower in the trophic chain,” the letter says.
As invertebrates, octopuses also are denied welfare protections under current, key EU animal welfare directives — meaning they could be raised in horrific conditions with little accountability.
Keeping sentient octopuses — who can solve problems, and are known for outsmarting human captors, whether releasing themselves from aquariums or fishing traps and secreting themselves back to the sea — in barren, underwater tanks could cause high stress levels, aggression and even cannibalism, according to the CIWF report.
A commissioned report from the London School of Economics and Political Science also lays out scientific evidence that octopuses are sentient, prompting the UK government to add protections for them to a newly created Animal Sentience Bill.
The Ocean Born Foundation, which also signed on to the letter, has assembled an information hub on the octopus farm’s development for those who want to take action.
“We recognize that we are interconnected with nature and with each other, and what we do to the planet and its living creatures, we do to ourselves,” the page notes. “We believe this farm is wrong for a number of reasons: its ethical implications, its environmental consequences, and its ecosystemic repercussions (to name a few).”
Some of the other organizations who signed on to the letter and call to ban the commercial octopus farm include Sea Shepherd (Global, Portugal, Spain), the World Federation for Animals, In Defense of Animals – USA, Future Food 4 Climate and the Interfaith Vegan Coalition.
If you haven’t already, please sign our petition urging world leaders to ensure that this cruel octopus farm never comes to fruition.