A Spanish company wants to kill one million octopuses a year using “ice slurry” baths in the first intensive farming

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 activists.

  • The farm slaughtered about a million octopuses each year by immersing them in ice water.

  • “That would be very cruel and shouldn’t be allowed,” Dr Peter Tse told the BBC.

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

The companies have been trying to produce commercial-scale octopuses in captivity for years, citing growing demand and pressure to find more sustainable alternatives to fishing. But critics say the creatures are too intelligent — and capable of feeling pain — to be farmed for food in confined spaces.

The proposed farm in question would be based in Spain’s Canary Islands and run by Nueva Pescanova, a seafood company that boasted in 2019 that it had succeeded in not only breeding captive octopuses but, for the first time, breeding them.

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

But activists from Eurogroup for Animals, an activist group, say the documents they obtained – and shared with the BBC – show the proposed factory would subject the octopuses to tortuous conditions and a long and painful death.

In a report released on Thursday, the activist group said Nueva Pescanova intends to slaughter around one million octopuses each year by submerging them in frigid “ice slurry”. He also criticizes the conditions in which they will be held before slaughter, saying the company intends to cage a solitary creature in close quarters – up to 15 octopuses per cubic meter of water – and subject them to 24-hour light periods. in an attempt to speed up playback.

“It will inflict unnecessary suffering on these intelligent, sentient and fascinating creatures, who need to explore and interact with their environment as part of their natural behavior,” said Elena Lara, research lead at the Compassion in World Farming group.

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 ensuring “the proper handling of the animals”. In particular, we read, the slaughter of octopuses “involves correct handling which avoids any pain or suffering to the animal”.

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

“Killing them with ice would be a slow death,” Dr Peter Tse, who studies octopus cognition at Dartmouth, told the BBC. “That would be very cruel and shouldn’t be allowed.”

In an open letter last year, before specific details of the proposed factory were released, a group of environmental scientists from New York University who specialize in animal sensitivities argued that it’s not possible to humanely breed captive octopuses on a commercial scale — and really could. cause not only pollution, from the release of contaminated water, but cannibalism in animals that have actually been driven mad.

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

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