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Scientists Express Deep Concerns Over Proposal For World's First Octopus Farm, Branding It "Cruel"

Scientists and animal welfare experts have expressed their concerns over the plan to build the world's first octopus farm. The proposed farm will reportedly raise around 1 million octopuses a year for food. These ocean creatures are known for their high intelligence, with critics branding the idea as cruel and unnecessary.

Nueva Pescanova has come under heavy criticism over the proposed octopus farm.
Nueva Pescanova has come under heavy criticism over the proposed octopus farm.

The company behind the planned octopus farm is Spanish multi national Nueva Pescanova according to confidential documents obtained by the BBC.

For decades scientists have been trying to understand the secret to breeding octopuses in captivity, an extremely difficult process due to the larvae only eating live food and requiring a specifically controlled environment. However, in 2019, Neuva Pescanova announced it had made a scientific breakthrough.

The planning proposal documents from Nueva Pescanova were passed to the BBC by the organisation Eurogroup for Animals.

Nueva Pescanova has denied that the octopuses will suffer, however, scientists and experts don't agree.

The documents revealed that Nueva Pescanova plans to keep the octopuses, which are solitary animals used to the dark, in tanks with other animals, often under constant light.

They would house the ocean creatures in approximately 1,000 communal tanks spread across a two-storey building in the port of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria.

The farmed octopuses would be killed using the "icy water slaughtering method", which has been labelled as "cruel". It involves putting the octopus into containers of water kept at -3C.

Octopuses have never been commercially farmed, meaning there are currently no welfare laws in place to protect them. However, experts have said the proposed method of killing them causes a slow, stressful death.

Several large supermarkets, including Morrisons and Tesco, have stopped selling fish that have been killed using ice due to the suffering it causes.

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) - the leading farmed seafood certification scheme - is proposing banning this method of killing fish unless they are stunned beforehand.

Professor Peter Tse, a neurologist at Dartmouth University, told the BBC that: "To kill them with ice would be a slow death, it would be very cruel and should not be allowed."

Nueva Pescanova made a statement to the BBC, they said: "The levels of welfare requirements for the production of octopus or any other animal in our farming farms guarantee the correct handling of the animals. The slaughter, likewise, involves proper handling that avoids any pain or suffering to the animal."

Nueva Pescanova is proposing that the octopus, that in the wild are natural hunters, be fed with industrially manufactured dry feed, sourced from "discards and by-products" of already-caught fish.

Elena Lara from CiWF has demanded authorities block the plans for the farm, claiming it would "inflict unnecessary suffering on these intelligent, sentient, and fascinating creatures."

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