NGOs gather in Gran Canaria to celebrate octopuses and protest planned farm


NGOs gather in Gran Canaria to celebrate octopuses and protest planned farm

20 November 2023
Animal welfare and environmental organisations came together on 4 November to spread awareness about the sentience of octopuses, and inhumane plans for the world’s first octopus farm.

Organised by PACMA and We The Free, the first annual International Save the Octopuses Fest was held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The event took place close to the planned site of Nueva Pescanova’s octopus factory farm. 

Scientific experts and activists took to the stage to speak about magnificent, intelligent, and complex octopuses. Among these experts were Dr. Elena Lara from Compassion in World Farming and Keri Tietge from Eurogroup for Animals. This was in stark contrast to the repeated mentions of unethical farming practices, industrial-level suffering, and environmental destruction.

As summarised in our case study released earlier this year, there are numerous concerns around Nueva Pescanova’s farm. Notably, there is currently no effective method for reducing the amount of pain these animals will feel when they are killed for human consumption.

During a panel discussion with the experts, there was a lot of frustration related to one issue; why is there a lack of transparency with the local community?


The Canary Islands government has not updated the public regarding the status of Nueva Pescanova’s octopus farm

Before construction of an industrial aquaculture facility begins, there are several permit processes that must be adhered to. These processes relate to both EU and national legislation and, in theory, allow for public participation at several different stages. In the case of Nueva Pescanova’s farm, everything has been kept quiet.

In September 2023, it was revealed that Nueva Pescanova’s simplified environmental impact assessment was denied. This means the autonomous body in charge of conducting the environmental evaluations concluded that there could be significant threats to the environment. Nueva Pescanova now must undergo the more exhaustive environmental impact assessment process.

Scientists and campaigners around the globe have already warned about the significant environmental damages that could come from this farm, but what is alarming is the lack of publicly available information about this process. The Canary Islands government is legally obligated to share notifications about such developments, which has still not happened. 

This lack of transparency may be related to the suspected usage of EU public funding for the farm,  which has not been disclosed by national authorities in Spain.

The EU parliamentary elections are just around the corner. It is critical for citizens to participate in order to bring voice to aquatic animals, including octopuses.

We know that farming octopuses simply cannot be done in a humane manner. It is also clear that this new industry goes against the EU’s Strategic Aquaculture Guidelines and would exacerbate a wide range of sustainability issues. Now is the opportune time to ensure that the EU acknowledges the overwhelming scientific evidence and protects these fascinating and unique animals.