A Spanish firm wants to kill one million octopuses a year using ‘ice slurry’ baths at first-ever factory farm #Spanish #firm #kill #million #octopuses #year #ice #slurry #baths #firstever #factory #farm #englishheadline


octopus near rock at sea floor

An octopus in the Mediterranean Sea.Kurt AMSLER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

  • A proposed commercial octopus farm is sparking outrage among experts and animal rights campaigners.

  • The farm would slaughter roughly one million octopuses each year by submerging them in icy water.

  • “It would be very cruel and should not be allowed,” Dr. Peter Tse told the BBC.

A proposed commercial octopus farm in Spain has sparked outrage after a leaked plan suggested that the operator intends to kill up to one million of the animals a year by submerging them, alive, in freezing water.

Companies have for years strived to produce octopuses at a commercial scale in captivity, citing growing demand and pressure to find more sustainable alternatives to fishing. But critics argue the creatures are far too smart — and capable of feeling pain — to be raised for food in confined quarters.

The proposed farm at issue would be based in Spain’s Canary Islands and run by Nueva Pescanova, a seafood company that boasted in 2019 of having succeeded at not only raising octopuses in captivity but, for the first time, getting them to reproduce.

“We will continue to research how to continue improving the well-being of the octopuses, studying and replicating their natural habitat, with the expectation to be able to sell aquaculture octopus starting in the year 2023,” CEO Ignacio González said at the time.

But campaigners with Eurogroup for Animals, an activist group, say that documents they obtained — and shared with the BBC — show that the proposed factory would subject octopuses to torturous conditions and a long, painful death.

In a report released Thursday, the activist group said that Nueva Pescanova intends to slaughter around one million octopuses each year by submerging them in a freezing “ice slurry.” In addition, it criticizes the conditions they will be kept in prior to their slaughter, saying the company intends to cage a solitary creature in dense housing — up to 15 octopuses per cubic meter of water — and subject them to 24-hour periods of light in an effort to speed reproduction.

“It will inflict unnecessary suffering on these intelligent, sentient and fascinating creatures, which need to explore and engage with the environment as part of their natural behaviour,” Elena Lara, research manager at the group Compassion in World Farming, said in a statement.

Nueva Pescanova did not respond to Insider’s request for comment. But in a statement to the BBC, the company said it had high standards that ensure “the correct handling of the animals.” In particular, it said, the slaughter of the octopuses “involves proper handling that avoids any pain or suffering to the animal.”

Experts disagree, however, that submerging live animals in freezing water is a pleasant way to go.

“To kill them with ice would be a slow death,” Dr. Peter Tse, who studies octopus cognition at Dartmouth, told the BBC. “It would be very cruel and should not be allowed.”

In an open letter last year, before specific details of the proposed factory were released, a group of environmental scientists at New York University who specialize in animal sentience argued that is not possible to humanely raise octopuses in captivity at a commercial scale — and could indeed cause not just pollution, from the release of contaminated waters, but cannibalism in animals that have effectively been driven mad.

“Beyond environmental and health concerns, octopuses are capable of observational learning, have individual personalities, play, and are capable of problem-solving, deception, and interspecies hunting,” the scientists wrote.

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