• Mon. Mar 20th, 2023

World’s initially octopus farm proposals alarm scientists


Mar 16, 2023
  • By Claire Marshall
  • BBC Atmosphere &amp Rural Affairs Correspondent

31 minutes ago

A strategy to develop the world’s initially octopus farm has raised deep issues amongst scientists more than the welfare of the famously intelligent creatures.

The farm in Spain’s Canary Islands would raise about a million octopuses annually for meals, according to confidential documents observed by the BBC.

They have never ever been intensively farmed and some scientists contact the proposed icy water slaughtering approach “cruel.”

The Spanish multinational behind the plans denies the octopuses will endure.

The confidential organizing proposal documents from the corporation, Nueva Pescanova, have been offered to the BBC by the campaign organisation Eurogroup for Animals.

Nueva Pescanova sent the proposal to the Canary Islands’ Basic Directorate of Fishing, which has not responded to a BBC request for comment.

Octopuses caught in the wild making use of pots, lines and traps are eaten all more than the globe, such as in the Mediterranean and in Asia and Latin America.

The race to find out the secret to breeding them in captivity has been going on for decades. It is challenging as the larvae only consume reside meals and want a cautiously controlled atmosphere, but Nueva Pescanova announced in 2019 that it had created a scientific breakthrough.

The prospect of intensively farming octopus has currently led to opposition: Lawmakers in the US state of Washington have proposed banning the practice prior to it even begins.

Nueva Pescanova’s plans reveal that the octopuses, which are solitary animals utilised to the dark, would be kept in tanks with other octopuses, at instances below continuous light. The creatures – the species octopus vulgaris – would be housed in about 1,000 communal tanks in a two-storey creating in the port of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria.

They would be killed by getting place in containers of water kept at -3C, according to the documents.

At present there are no welfare guidelines in spot, as octopuses have never ever been commercially farmed prior to. On the other hand research have shown that this approach of slaughtering fish making use of ‘ice slurry’ causes a slow, stressful death. The Planet Organisation for Animal Well being says it “outcomes in poor fish welfare” and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) – the major farmed seafood certification scheme – is proposing a ban unless fish are stunned beforehand.

Prof. Peter Tse, a neurologist at Dartmouth University, told the BBC that “to kill them with ice would be a slow death … it would be really cruel and need to not be permitted.”

Adding that they have been “as intelligent as cats” he recommended that a far more humane way would be to kill them as lots of fishermen do, by clubbing them more than the head.

Image supply, Gerardo G. Mourín – ggmourin@gmail.com

Image caption,

The international octopus trade is now estimated to be worth far more than £2.2bn

To provide “premium international markets” such as the US, South Korea and Japan, Nueva Pescanova desires to generate three,000 tonnes of octopus a year. This equates to about 1 million animals, with some ten-15 octopuses living in every cubic metre of tank, according to campaign group Compassion in Planet Farming (CiWF), which has studied the plans.

Nueva Pescanova estimates in its documentation that there will be “a mortality price of ten-15%”.

Creatures that really feel ‘pain and pleasure’

Jonathan Birch, associate professor at the London College of Economics, led a critique of far more than 300 scientific research which he says shows that octopuses really feel discomfort and pleasure. It led to them getting recognised as “sentient beings” in the UK’s Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022. Prof Birch and his co-authors think that higher-welfare octopus farming is “not possible” and that killing in ice slurry “would not be an acceptable approach of killing in a lab”.

“Significant numbers of octopuses need to never ever be kept with each other in close proximity. Performing this leads to anxiety, conflict and higher mortality … A figure of ten-15% mortality need to not be acceptable for any sort of farming.”

In a statement to the BBC, Nueva Pescanova mentioned: “The levels of welfare specifications for the production of octopus or any other animal in our farming farms assure the right handling of the animals. The slaughter, likewise, includes suitable handling that avoids any discomfort or suffering to the animal …”

In the wild, octopuses are fiercely territorial agile hunters. Nueva Pescanova is proposing that the farmed animals be fed with industrially developed dry feed, sourced from “discards and by-items” of currently-caught fish.

The tanks would be filled with seawater piped in from an adjacent bay. The tanks would be distinct sizes for the distinct phases of the octopuses’ life, with the salinity and temperature closely controlled.

The initial brood of one hundred octopuses – 70 males and 30 females – would be taken from a investigation facility, the Pescanova Biomarine Centre, in Galicia, northern Spain.

The plans state that the corporation has accomplished a level of “domestication” in the species and that they do not “show crucial indicators of cannibalism or competitors for meals”.

Elena Lara from CiWF known as on the Canary Islands authorities to block building of the farm, which she mentioned would “inflict unnecessary suffering on these intelligent, sentient and fascinating creatures”.

Reineke Hameleers, CEO at Eurogroup for Animals added that the European Commission was at the moment reviewing its animal welfare legislation and had a “genuine chance” to “stay clear of terrible suffering”.

Image supply, Gabrielle Yap / EyeEm

Image caption,

Octopuses are extremely intelligent, and have been observed attempting to escape from aquariums

Along with the welfare of the octopuses, CiWF has issues about the wastewater developed by the farm, which would be pumped back into the sea. Octopuses generate nitrogen and phosphates as waste. “The water getting into and leaving the plant will be filtered so that it will have no influence on the atmosphere,” Nueva Pescanova told the BBC.

About 350,000 tonnes of octopus are caught every year – far more than ten instances the quantity caught in 1950 – which is placing stress on populations. Nueva Pescanova stated that “aquaculture is the option to making sure a sustainable yield” and that it would “repopulate the octopus species in the future.” On the other hand conservationists think farming them would decrease the value, potentially generating new markets.

Nueva Pescanova emphasised to the BBC that it devoted “fantastic efforts to market accountable and sustainable efficiency all through the worth chain to make sure that finest practices are adopted.”

The government of Gran Canaria has not responded to a request for information and facts.

Image supply, Animal Rebellion

Image caption,

People today in London march against octopus farming – there have been protests in other nations