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Octopus Farm Must Be Stopped, Say Campaigners, As New Documents Reveal Plans Were Reckless And Threatened Environment

Published: Thu 11 Apr 2024 09:32 AM
Campaigners are calling on a seafood company to scrap plans to build the world’s first octopus farm in Spain as new documents reveal that – as well as ignoring animal cruelty concerns – it failed to consider the significant threats the farm would pose to wildlife, the environment and public health.
NGOs Compassion in World Farming, Eurogroup for Animals and AnimaNaturalis are urging company Nueva Pescanova to immediately stop the project on the grounds that, as well as causing cruelty to octopuses, the farm contradicts its own corporate sustainability claims. Among the concerns is that the farm could threaten dolphins and turtles near the site, and its discharges could add to local water pollution and CO2 emissions. The probability of these impacts was considered to be ‘significantly high’ by the Canary Islands Government.
The company’s website claims that it is committed to ‘maintaining biodiversity’, ‘protecting the ecosystem’ and ‘promoting the circular economy’. Yet its own environmental report for the farm at the Port of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, was considered insufficient by the Canary Islands Government due to concerns that the plans could:threaten local wildlife, including protected cetaceans (dolphins and porpoises) and vulnerable sea turtles, through noise and water pollution due to its close proximity to a Marine Protected Area (MPA).pose a public health risk by using nearby seawater which is not of a high enough quality to be used for human food production.cause pollution including CO2 emissions, odour concerns, and discharges that could significantly contribute to the already highly contaminated harbour waters.threaten a protected species of algae – Cystoseira – which is present in the surroundings.involve highly unsustainable practices such as the use of wild fish as feed and high energy consumption of the facility.
Speaking on behalf of the team of Legal Natura legal experts who examined the documents, lawyer, Maria Angeles López Lax, said: “Nueva Pescanova’s environmental report was inadequate, lacking basic information to allow the Government to assess the impact of the farm on the environment and public health. It’s up to the company to prove that the farm would not impact on protected species or risk public health before permission can be granted, yet the company has failed to address even the most basic of these concerns.”
Octopuses are unique, intelligent, naturally solitary creatures who are not suited to the overcrowded conditions that are typical of factory farms. This would increase aggression and can ultimately lead to cannibalism. They are also carnivorous, meaning they need to be fed wild fish in captivity, an unsustainable practice that would put extra pressure on already overexploited fish populations.
Compassion in World Farming launched its report Octopus Farming: A Recipe for Disaster in 2021 revealing scientific evidence that octopus farming would be both cruel and environmentally damaging. A year ago, Compassion and Eurogroup for Animals launched Uncovering the Horrific Reality of Octopus Farming – its joint response to Nueva Pescanova’s plans to farm around one million of these intelligent, unique animals in an aquatic factory farm annually.
On World Octopus Day last year (8 October), 75 NGOs, experts and public figures, led by Compassion and Eurogroup for Animals, wrote to the Canary Islands Government urging it to reject the plans. Thousands of supporters also took action, urging the President of the community to stop the octopus farm.
Dr Elena Lara, a marine biologist and Senior Research Manager at Compassion in World Farming, who wrote Compassion’s report said: “Not only would this octopus farm cause cruelty to these naturally solitary and intelligent animals and be environmentally unsustainable, it’s also hypocritical for Nueva Pescanova to push plans that contradict their own corporate sustainability claims.”
Keri Tietge, Aquatic Animals Policy Officer, Eurogroup for Animals said: “It is unjustifiable to introduce this new type of factory farming, as climate scientists warn of the urgent need to change our food systems and evolve our diets to become more sustainable. We deserve better than continued environmental devastation to fill corporate pockets, and these incredible animals deserve better than lives diminished to confinement and suffering.”
Cristina Ibáñez, Campaign Coordinator at AnimaNaturalis, said: “Our society should be in a moment of progress towards a more empathetic and compassionate treatment of animals. If this aberration continues, despite the rejection of the scientific community and a large part of society, we will be facing a serious rupture of these values."
The NGOs are calling on supporters to tag Nueva Pescanova on social media urging them to immediately stop their plans to build the octopus farm.

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