World’s First Octopus Farm


The world’s first commercial octopus farm is closer to becoming reality has been met with dismay by scientists and conservationists. They argue such intelligent “sentient” creatures – considered able to feel pain and emotions – should never be commercially reared for food, reports CNN.

About Stacy 

Stacey is one of a team of five aquarists at Bristol Aquarium, and she sees DJ reacting differently to each of them. She says he will happily stay still, and hold her hand with his tentacles.

The keepers feed the octopus with mussels and prawns and bits of fish and crab. Sometimes they put the food in a dog toy for him to tease out with his tentacles, so he can practice his hunting skills.

Sentient beings 

Stacey says the octopus shows his intelligence through his eyes. “When you look at him, and he looks at you, you can sense there’s something there.”The level of awareness that Stacey witnesses first-hand is to be recognised in UK law through an amendment to the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill.

The change has come after a team of experts sifted through more than 300 scientific studies and concluded that octopuses were “sentient beings” and there was “strong scientific evidence” that they could experience pleasure, excitement and joy – but also pain, distress and harm.

Breeding in octopus

The Spanish multinational, Nueva Pescanova (NP) appears to have beaten companies in Mexico, Japan and Australia, to win the race. It has announced that it will start marketing farmed octopus next summer, to sell it in 2023.

The company built on research done by the Spanish Oceanographic Institute (Instituto Español de Oceanografía), looking at the breeding habits of the Common Octopus – Octopus vulgaris. NP’s commercial farm will be based inland, close to the port of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands according to PortSEurope.

It’s reported the farm will produce 3,000 tonnes of octopus per year. The company has been quoted as saying it will help to stop so many octopus being taken from the wild.

Nueva Pescanova has refused to reveal any details of what conditions the octopuses will be kept in, despite numerous approaches by the BBC. The size of the tanks, the food they will eat and how they will be killed are all secret.

The plans have been denounced by an international group of researchers as “ethically and ecologically unjustified”. The campaign group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) has written to the governments of several countries – including Spain – urging them to ban it.

About octopus brain 

Octopuses have large, complex brains. Their intelligence has been proven in numerous scientific experiments. They’ve been observed using coconut and sea shells to hide and defend themselves and have shown they can learn set tasks quickly. They’ve also managed to escape from aquariums and steal from traps set by people fishing.

What’s more, they have no skeletons to protect them and are highly territorial. So they could be easily damaged in captivity and – if there was more than one octopus in a tank – experts say they could start to eat each other.

Issues on farming octopuses 

She argues that farming octopuses could add to the growing pressure on wild fish stocks. Octopuses are carnivores and need to eat two-to-three times their own weight in food to live. Currently around one-third of the fish caught around the planet is turned into feed for other animals – and roughly half of that amount goes into aquaculture. So farmed octopus could be fed on fish products from stocks already overfished.

Factory farming 

Factory farming on land has evolved differently around the world. Pigs, for example, have been shown to be intelligent.

The conservationists argue the sentience of many farmed animals wasn’t known when the intensive systems were set up, and the mistakes of the past shouldn’t be repeated.

Because pigs have been domesticated for many years, we have enough knowledge about their needs and know how to improve their lives, says Dr Lara. “The problem with octopus is that they are completely wild, so we don’t know exactly what they need, or how we can provide a better life for them.”

“They are extremely complex beings,” says Dr Vinther. “I think as humans we need to respect that if we want to farm them or eat them.”

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Source: CNN


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