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Octopus Factory Farming: Stop it Before it Starts

Karina Melm


Credit: The Guardian

Octopuses are remarkable creatures. They can solve complex puzzles and can feel a variety of emotions such as curiosity, anger, joy, and pain. They work with fish to get food, and females fling sand at males who are annoying them.

Despite their intelligence, they suffer greatly at the hands of humans. They are tortured for views on YouTube, and their corpses are thrown onto ice rinks during something known as ‘Legend of the Octopus’. The octopus population has also dramatically decreased due to rising demand for their tentacles. Indeed, the extent to which octopuses are now hunted is at least ten times higher than it was in 1950.

However, out of all these issues troubling the octopus population, the greatest is the new threat of octopus factory farming. In 2023, Spanish company Nueva Pescanova will begin selling factory-farmed octopus. Their factory farm will aim to produce 3,000 tonnes of octopus each year. This company has refused as of yet to disclose the living conditions of the octopuses, what they will eat, and how they will be killed. The company claims that their farming practices will help save wild octopus populations, but factory farming octopus is likely to cause more problems than it will solve. A main concern is that this will put even more pressure on already depleted fish populations, seeing as fish is octopuses’ main food source.

There are much better ways of helping wild octopus populations than intensive farming. Actions such as reducing octopus consumption, protecting vital wild octopus habitats, and adopting more restrictive measures against the fishing of octopuses, are the things that will make a difference.

Furthermore, factory farming octopuses will result in immense animal suffering. For a factory farm to be productive, it will either need to cram octopuses together in large containers or even individually in small cages. This will cause great amounts of stress for the octopi, as they are intelligent creatures who need stimulation. As octopuses are solitary creatures, being forced to live together in close proximity will cause them to harm each other, and perhaps even cannibalize one another. Lastly, due to their unique nervous system, there is no humane way to kill octopuses en masse. They have eight brains in their tentacles and one central brain in their head. This is unlike any other animal that is slaughtered for food in a farmed setting, so chances are that the humane slaughter methods that apply to a pig will not apply to an octopus.

One could say that octopus factory farming is okay on the basis that we do the same to pigs, chickens, and cows, but when we began farming those animals, we didn’t understand that they are sentient beings. We already know that octopuses are highly sentient animals, and we must protect them from being subjected to torture.

There are many actions we can take to stop this, an important one being petitioning. There are already petitions online that one can sign, calling for the end of octopus factory farming. Another method is to tell others about the issue and try to educate as many people as possible. The company is banking on consumers thinking that they are helping the environment by buying factory farmed octopus, and spreading the truth could help stop it.

Together, we can prevent this ethical crisis.



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