According to a recent Quartz article, technological advances in breeding octopus have reignited interest in industrial scale octopus farming. And as the global demand for octopus is growing, more farmers are looking to capitalize on this growing trend. But scientists are speaking out in opposition to it, claiming it could contribute to an ethical and environmental disaster by depleting populations of native aquatic animals and further disrupting already fragile marine ecosystems.
What we’ve learned about octopuses in the last several years compels us to reevaluate exploiting them. A couple of years ago one octopus named Inky at a New Zealand aquarium made a daring dash to escape captivity. Inky broke out of his enclosure, traveled eight feet across the floor, and squeezed into a small pipe that led directly to the ocean. His remarkable escape would have looked something like this:
Octopuses stand out when compared to other invertebrates because they have the largest brains, according to an article published in Orion. On top of that, the common octopus has about 130 million neurons in their brains, (humans have 100 billion) with three-fifths of them in their arms. Octopuses are capable of mimicking their surroundings using color changes that can be performed in seconds, and even changing shapes with their bodies. Octopuses can outwit predatory sharks and use tools to catch food.
Aside from their fascinating intelligence, octopuses not only feel pain, but they have demonstrated the ability to anticipate pain, as well as memory of painful experiences.
Thankfully, eating animals of any kind is unnecessary to human health, so no level of octopus farming is necessary. As we’ve stated before, decades of scientific evidence have demonstrated that humans have no biological need to consume flesh or other animal products. We can get all the nutrients we need on a plant-based diet, without the unhealthy animal protein and cholesterol, and without inflicting needless suffering and death on billions of animals.
Mary Finelli, the president of Fish Feel, states that “Octopuses tend to be highly intelligent, solitary animals who like to conceal themselves. Forcing them to live together, in what are bound to be otherwise barren conditions, is egregiously inhumane. They are exotic animals and relatively little is known about disease conditions in them, which inevitably are exacerbated by the stress of such captivity, and few people are qualified to treat them. Efforts to raise octopuses in captivity has already resulted in massive mortalities. There is no doubt that the treatment and slaughter of these animals, if mass produced for food, would be grossly inhumane.”
What can you do?
Learn more about the experiences of marine animals at our resource, Fish Exploited for Food Suffer Like Mammals and Birds.
Reach out to the National Aquaculture and Fisheries Commission in Mexico that economically supports the National Autonomous University of Mexico for the development of Octopus Maya farming technology and let them know that octopus meat is an ethical and ecological disaster.