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Company faces backlash over ‘cruel’ plans to farm and slaughter millions of octopuses: ‘It … should not be allowed’

“To kill them with ice would be a slow death.”

Viral Octopus farm

Photo Credit: iStock

A plan from big fishing company Nueva Pescanova to farm a million octopuses a year in the Canary Islands and slaughter them for food using ice water has friends of the intelligent sea creature boiling. 

The BBC reported on the plan after being given details about it by an animal rights group, Eurogroup for Animals, which is still acting as a watchdog and recently released a new video on the topic.

Why raise octopuses? 

This would be the first octopus farm in the world, according to the BBC. The creature is fished for food in the wild and eaten in many cultures.

Compared to 2021 numbers, the industry could grow by as much as $318 million by 2025, according to Technavio, a market analysis site. Nueva’s farm would be unique, as successfully breeding and raising the creature in captivity has been difficult, the BBC reports

Why is there concern? 

Octopuses are praised for their intelligence. The National Museum of London lists eight ways that the creature “surprises” biologists with their abilities: Cleverness, using tools, and the ability to recognize people are among them. 

What’s more, the BBC reports that they feel pain and pleasure. So, biologists and others are alarmed by Nueva’s plan, which includes keeping the animals in crowded tanks, sometimes under constant light. Ultimately, they would be killed by being put in water that’s about 27 degrees Fahrenheit. 

“To kill them with ice would be a slow death … it would be very cruel and should not be allowed,” Peter Tse, a cognitive neuroscientist at Dartmouth University, told the BBC. 

For Nueva’s part, the company said that sea life raised on its farms is cared for humanely. Nueva has 12,000 employees on four continents and claims to have “respect for the environment and the communities where we operate,” according to the company website. 

Increased hunting has also impacted octopus populations. The BBC notes that about 386,000 tons of the creature are caught each year. Nueva claims its strategy would help with sustainability

What’s being done to stop the farm? 

Biologists following the proposal in the Canary Islands fear that cramming a bunch of octopuses into tanks is a bad idea. The BBC reports that efforts are on to lobby Canary Islands authorities to ban the project. Certain grocers are not selling sea life that is killed using ice.

Elena Lara, with Compassion in World Farming, is among those lobbying the Canary Islands authorities to stop the farm. It will “inflict unnecessary suffering on these intelligent, sentient, and fascinating creatures,” she said to the BBC. 

Online petitions are one way to join the effort to stop the octopus farm.

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