Roots & Shoots Spain took part in a protest action on 21st May 2023 in front of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Madrid against the octopus farm that the company Nueva Pescanova plans to build in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
The Roots & Shoots groups in Spain joined Acción Océanos, AnimaNaturalis, Eurogroup for Animals and other like-minded organizations. Environmentalists, scientific community members, and other organisations participated in a protest which called for a halt to the construction of this farm for several reasons, such as the lack of legislation on the breeding of octopuses in captivity for food or the environmental impact that this macro-farm would have on the island.
Through the collaborative efforts of the various organisation, nearly 151,000 signatures have been collected since October 2022 for a petition to ban the farm. Further support and signatures are required to top this farming practice of octopus – which would be the first farm of its kind, and which would set a precedent for others.
For its part, Nueva Pescanova is still not giving details about its plans for the facility or how it will guarantee the animal welfare of the octopuses. However, several scientific collaborators of Roots & Shoots Spain have confirmed that this type of facility would not help the survival of the species in the wild, but would encourage even more its illegal exploitation by increasing its price in the market. In addition to the fact that the forms of slaughter currently proposed are not legal and octopuses are unprotected by law – there is no Spanish or European legislation for the breeding of octopuses in captivity for consumption.
In the coming months Roots & Shoots Spain will participate in further actions to draw the attention of national and international civil society and the authorities in order to prevent intensive octopus farming in Spain and Europe.
Click here for more information and to sign the petition.
Octopuses are fascinating animals endowed with a complex nervous system and neural package that makes them extremely intelligent. They are able to use tools and learn, to solve easy puzzles and problems, as well as cooperating with other species to hunt. Furthermore, there is scientific evidence that they are capable of feeling pain and suffering, and for their proper development they need space and cognitive stimulation that would not be provided in these facilities. Researchers at the London School of Economics determined, from a review of 300 scientific studies, that octopuses are sentient beings, and they expressed their conviction that highwelfare exploitation would be impossible – and that, in case of accomplishing it, it would not be economically profitable. In addition, in the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, a prestigious group of scientists determined that there is evidence indicating that non-human animals, such as octopuses, possess the neurological substrates of conscious states, along with the ability to exhibit intentional behaviors.
The laws of the European Union that regulate the welfare of “livestock” do not apply to invertebrates, so octopuses are not included: They have no protection under the law, at least not from the point of view of mass farming. On the other hand, the European Directive 2010/63/EU on the breeding of animals for scientific purposes does include cephalopods, quoted verbatim: “In addition to vertebrate animals, (…), cephalopods must also be included in the scope of application of this Directive, as there is evidence of their ability to experience pain, suffering, distress and lasting harm”. If this law takes into account the welfare and the intellectual and sentient capacity of the octopuses, there seems to be no reason against the
creation of a law that applies to other areas of their possible breeding, as would be the case of intensive farming as a food product.