A Spanish multinational fishing company plans to produce 3,000 tons of octopus meat annually in the Canary Islands, raising ethical and environmental concerns among animal welfare advocates and ecologists. Octopuses, popular in countries like Spain, Italy, and China, have mystified researchers due to the challenges of breeding them in captivity. Spanish scientists, in collaboration with the Institute of Oceanography of Tenerife, successfully closed the breeding cycle of octopuses in 2018, paving the way for industrial-scale cultivation.
Nueva Pescanova, the Spanish-based multinational company holding the patent for octopus production, intends to establish a large-scale octopus farm in the Canary Islands. The €65 million investment project aims to produce 3,000 tons of octopus per year within the first four years of operation.
While Nueva Pescanova sees this endeavor as an economic opportunity, animal welfare organizations and ecologists view it differently. Critics argue that octopuses, known for their complex behaviors and high intelligence, are not suitable for intensive farming. The animals, considered sentient beings by scientists, exhibit conscious behaviors and are capable of intentional actions.
The ethical dilemma revolves around the treatment of these creatures in captivity. Animal welfare expert Elena Lara, affiliated with Compassion in World Farming, highlights concerns about octopuses being solitary by nature and the potential stress caused by high-density farming, including territorial disputes and cannibalism.
In 2012, an international group of scientists included octopuses in the list of conscious animals capable of expressing intentional behaviors, emphasizing their cognitive abilities and emotional complexity.
Nueva Pescanova claims to prioritize animal welfare, employing methods like thermal shock in icy water for humane euthanasia. However, the controversy persists, prompting environmental assessments and igniting public debate. Greenpeace and other environmental organizations plan a collective mobilization on November 4th to protest the octopus farming project, emphasizing the need for sustainable and ethical practices in food production. The fate of the project remains uncertain, awaiting government approval amid ongoing ethical and environmental scrutiny.