MEDIA RELEASE: Octopus Farming Plans: New Report Predicts Industrial-Scale Cruelty, Environmental Harms

MEDIA RELEASE: Octopus Farming Plans: New Report Predicts Industrial-Scale Cruelty, Environmental Harms

CANARY ISLANDS, Spain (March 24, 2023)In Defense of Animals supports Eurogroup For Animals’ and Compassion In World Farming’s renewed call to stop the world’s first octopus factory farm in the Canary Islands with the release of a new report which exposes the disastrous impacts for animals and the environment.

Spanish multinational Nueva Pescanova is planning to launch the world's first octopus farm in the port of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. The company has yet to reach its goal of marketing farmed octopus flesh in 2023 and is still awaiting several permits which are dependent on the outcome of Spain’s Environmental Impact Assessment.

Compassion in World Farming and Eurogroup for Animals’ new report, Uncovering the Horrific Reality of Octopus Farming, exposes numerous issues with the plans submitted to the General Directorate of Fishing of the Government of the Canary Islands, ranging from overcrowding and inhumane slaughter methods to inappropriate housing and environmental consequences. 

The company plans to farm as many as 1 million octopuses annually. The proposed two-story building will hold octopuses captive in 40-60 fattening tanks, 550-650 settlement tanks, 90-100 tanks for newly hatched octopuses, and 22-36 tanks for breeding. Despite acknowledging that octopuses have an aversion to light, the company also plans to expose them to 24-hour light to speed up spawning.  

The plans also outline the intent to use an ice slurry for slaughter, which has been scientifically shown to cause a slow, painful death and prolonged suffering. The European Union is currently drafting legislation to end ice slurry killing in major aquaculture sectors.

Nueva Pescanova’s plans confirm the animal welfare concerns. Crowded tanks will ultimately lead to aggression and even cannibalism among octopuses, who are solitary and highly territorial. The fishing giant estimates “a mortality rate of 10-15%,” which is unacceptable on any farm. The company also plans to use fish oil and fishmeal as primary ingredients in octopus feed, adding pressure to wild fish species who are already struggling to survive. Additionally, the land-based aquaculture system will be energy-intensive, and have an as-yet-to-be-determined negative impact on the surrounding environment. 

Despite pushback against octopus farming, another Spanish company, Profand, has entered the race through its sub-organization, Octolarvae, which is researching how to breed and raise octopuses in captivity.

The U.S. also has plans to develop octopus farming, as does Japan, which has already developed squid farming methods. However, Kanaloa Octopus Farm, an octopus farm in Hawaii operating under the guise of a conservation facility, was halted for not having the proper permits, while the state of Washington is currently considering a ban on octopus farming.

“Considering what we do know about how complex and highly intelligent octopuses are and much of what they need to thrive, it’s absolutely inexcusable to even consider farming them at an industrial scale,” said Katie Nolan, Campaigner for In Defense of Animals. “We should be focused instead on investing in the creation of a truly sustainable food system that doesn’t cause further animal suffering, or harm human health and the environment.”

“Blindly establishing a new farming system without consideration of the ethical and environmental implications is a step in all the wrong directions. We’re calling on the EU to include a ban on octopus farming before it ever sees the light of day, in order to avoid plunging more sentient beings into a living hell,” commented Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals.

A host of scientists have spoken out to oppose the octopus farm, including: 

  • Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Becca Franks, PhD, Research Scientist from the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University and co-author of The Case Against Octopus Farming
  • Jonathan Balcombe, PhD, biologist and author of What a Fish Knows
  • 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
  • A team of scholars on behalf of New York University

Over 20,000 people have written to the European Food Safety Authority and the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition asking them to keep sentient and intelligent octopuses safe from the horrors of industrial farming. Members of the public are urged to sign In Defense of Animals’ alert here:


### NOTES ### 

Eurogroup Octopus Report News Article: Uncovering the Horrific Reality of Octopus Farming


Katie Nolan, General Campaigner, In Defense of Animals; [email protected]

Keri Tietge, Project Consultant - Octopus, Eurogroup for Animals [email protected] 


In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in California with over 250,000 supporters and a 40-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, rural Mississippi, and California.

Compassion In World Farming is dedicated to reforming a broken food and farming system and introducing a more humane, fair, and sustainable one. We believe that the biggest cause of cruelty on the planet deserves a focused, specialized approach – so we are relentlessly focused on ending factory farming.

Eurogroup For Animals’ primary focus of Eurogroup for Animals is to improve the well-being of as many animals as possible and defend animals’ interests. We do this by achieving better legislation, standards, enforcement and societal attitudes, through a united community of animal protection organizations and via lawful means.


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