MEDIA RELEASE: Scientists Call to Stop Octopus Farming for World Octopus Day
LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA, Spain (Oct. 5, 2022) — In Defense of Animals, the Animal Save Movement, the Ocean Born Foundation, and the Interfaith Vegan Coalition, along with fellow scientists, authors, and celebrities, are urging the end of octopus farming for World Octopus Day on Saturday, Oct. 8. The public is invited to take action to protect octopuses around the world and learn more about these incredible cephalopods.
To celebrate this timely day of action, media and members of the public are invited to attend a virtual book talk with the author of The Soul of an Octopus, Sy Montogomery on Saturday, October 8 at 12 p.m. EST/9 a.m. PST.
Montogomery is a nature writer whose work focuses on animals she has encountered, including tigers, gorillas, octopuses, and her pig named Christopher. Her book The Soul of an Octopus explores the intelligence and consciousness of octopuses and the relationships they form with humans, including herself. Montgomery has authored 33 books for both adults and children.
“Killing someone as sensitive, emotional, and intelligent as an octopus to eat is about as wasteful as burning Renaissance masterpieces to cook dinner.”
— Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus.
Join In Defense of Animals and Sy Montgomery on World Octopus Day:
What: In Defense of Animals hosts a book talk for World Octopus Day with The Soul of an Octopus author Sy Montgomery.
When: Saturday, October 8 at 12 p.m. EST/9 a.m. PST
Where: To attend the zoom webinar, please register via this link: https://bit.ly/octopustalk
Find more on the event on In Defense of Animals’ Facebook page: https://fb.me/e/2c0Pw8JKl
When you register, you will receive a link to join, and a phone number that can be used to dial into the call.
The Animal Save Movement, Ocean Born Foundation, and In Defense of Animals are urging the European Commission and the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition to take a stand against industrial octopus farming and Nueva Pescanova, a Spanish multinational corporation planning to launch the world's first octopus farm that aims to market octopus flesh beginning in 2023.
“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 Pesca Nova,” said Anita Krajnc, Executive Director of the Animal Save Movement. “There are plenty of delicious and nutritious plant-based seafood alternatives that could save fishes and octopuses and relieve the climate and ocean crisis.”
The Stop Octopus Farming campaign includes open letters from scientists, action alerts, a petition, and email letters. Thousands of In Defense of Animals and Animal Save Movement supporters,concerned citizens and celebrities have already joined the campaign to keep these farms from opening.
“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,” said actor Paul Wesley.
Octopuses are incredibly intelligent, sentient animals who are capable of feeling emotions like joy, pain, and fear. Scientific research has documented vast evidence that octopuses experience a range of moods, from, grumpy to playful, just as humans do, and show remarkable curiosity and problem-solving abilities. They are able to use tools, plan ahead, and even to befriend other species.
“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,” said Katie Nolan, campaigner with In Defense of Animals.
Despite these remarkable discoveries of octopus sentience, 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 around the world, and researchers estimate that about 50,000 tons of octopus are caught each year. Yet there are currently no laws in place in Europe, the U.S., Mexico or Japan to protect farmed octopuses from suffering, particularly from abhorrent killing methods. Nueva Pescanova has so far refused to explain how the octopuses will be raised or killed. However, wild-caught octopuses are typically killed by methods such as clubbing their heads, cutting into their brains without anesthetic, asphyxiation in a net, and chilling in ice. Scientists have also been studying three new slaughter methods including:
- Chemical methods - an overdose of magnesium chloride, ethanal and clove oil.
- Mechanical methods - destruction of the brain either by cutting between the eyes, or decapitation.
- Electrical methods - electrocution of octopuses by passing an electric current through their body.
“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,” said Carolina Manhusen Schwab, President of the Ocean Born Foundation. “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 of which 90% of the feed are fit for human consumption (think for example of crab, hake, squid and shrimp). Their carnivorous diets are unsustainable for the environment and a highly inefficient and wasteful way to produce food.”
“Octopuses are fully sentient beings and shouldn't be farmed as if they're unfeeling objects.”
— Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., author of The Animals' Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age (with Jessica Pierce), professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society, and a past Guggenheim Fellow.
“Octopus farming is a reckless and backward idea that should never become a reality.”
— Becca Franks, PhD, Research Scientist from the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University and co-author of The Case Against Octopus Farming.
"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."
— Jonathan Balcombe, PhD, biologist and author of What a Fish Knows.
“After the Oscar award winning popularity of My Octopus Teacher and more than a decade after the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, the proposal for Pesca Nova's Octopus Farm feels like a throwback to a bygone era of darkness and desolation. I fervently pray that this project does not see the light of day.”
— Dr. Sailesh Rao, Founder and Executive Director of Climate Healers.
“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.”
— Jennifer Jacquet, Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and Deputy Director of the Center for Environmental and Animal Protection at New York University.
“Octopus farming is not only an unethical investment, but also one that presents serious environmental and public health risks. We suggest that the Spanish government and Nueva Pescanova divert their energy and resources toward a safer, more sustainable and ethical activity.”
— Letter signed by a team of scholars on behalf of New York University.
World Octopus Day Actions
Members of the public are also encouraged to do more for cephalopods on World Octopus Day. To help, they can host a viewing of the acclaimed documentary My Octopus Teacher, take part in demonstrations organized by Animal Save Movement, learn about cephalopods and share that knowledge with friends and family or on social media, and choose compassion by leaving octopus off their plate. Concerned citizens can get involved by:
- Purchasing a copy of The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery and considering holding a book club to get others involved and educated
- Taking part in demonstrations organized by Animal Save Movement
- Hosting a viewing of the acclaimed documentary My Octopus Teacher
- Learning about cephalopods and sharing that knowledge with friends and family or on social media
- Choosing compassion by leaving octopus off their plates
### Key information ###
New York University Opposition Statement
Interfaith Opposition Statement
Comments on the Environmental Impact Assessment
Concerned citizens can send letters to stop octopus farming:
Ocean Born Foundation, President, Carolina Manhusen Schwab, email@example.com, +34 674 424 644
Animal Save Movement, Executive Director, Anita Krajnc, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 416-825-6080 and Communications Director, Nicola Harris, email@example.com, +44 7597514343
In Defense of Animals, Campaigns Director, Lisa Levinson, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 215-620-2130
Ocean Born Foundation is a grant-giving organization that brings competitive products to market ensuring they are made with as little environmental impact as possible and of which all profits (100%) are donated to ocean clean-up and conservation projects. www.oceanbornfoundation.org
Animal Save Movement is a global network of activists that bear witness to animals at the gates of slaughterhouses in order to expose and dismantle animal exploitation industries. www.animalsavemovement.org
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 39-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org
The Interfaith Vegan Coalition helps animal activists and spiritual leaders bring vegan values to spiritual, ethical, and religious communities by providing tools to help all faith and secular wisdom traditions practice the ideals of nonviolence, lovingkindness, and harmlessness toward all animals. www.interfaithvegancoalition.org
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