Where do things stand with the world’s first octopus farm?

Where do things stand with the world’s first octopus farm?

8 October 2023

Spanish seafood company Nueva Pescanova announced plans in 2019 to establish the world’s first octopus farm in the port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. To mark World Octopus Day 2023, we take a look at the application’s progress following resounding opposition from scientists, animal welfare and environmental organisations, and the general public.

Our case study Uncovering the Horrific Reality of Octopus Farming published together with Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), attracted significant international media attention

In our new video, we update you on key welfare and environmental concerns of octopus farming, the current state of the application processes to establish the farm, and options for citizens to support our call to stop octopus farming.

Thanks to continuing media attention, online petitions and protests worldwide, the issue remains on the radar, and public pressure is working. 

At regional level, the Canary Islands government has recently required a more exhaustive environmental impact procedure. Typically, intensive aquaculture projects in Spain are only subject to a simplified environmental assessment, but it was concluded that the octopus farm could have a significant impact on the surrounding environment. For Nueva Pescanova, this means that after waiting 2 years for the green light, they must now start over with a tougher evaluation process.

At EU level, several MEPs have expressed their opposition to the farm, raising a parliamentary question to the European Commission, as well as sending a joint letter to the Canary Islands government. 

Outside the EU, Washington state has proposed a bill prohibiting octopus farms, and the UK has legally recognised octopuses as sentient beings. Hawaiian authorities have closed the Kanaloa octopus research farm, and in Canada, a governmental petition was proposed to ban octopus farming. 

Moreover, the well known seafood certification labelling schemes by RSPCA and Friend of the Sea have made a resolute stance announcing their refusal to certify any farmed octopus products. 

Nevertheless, we have to keep up the pressure to make sure octopus farming never sees the light of day. 

Led by CIWF, on the occasion of World Octopus Day 2023, we have joined forces with 75 NGOs and experts worldwide to urge the Canary Islands Government to reject plans for the world’s first octopus farm in a joint letter

In the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, ethical concerns, and global opposition, creating the world's first octopus farm is a perilous path we must not tread. Octopuses, solitary in nature, and with extremely complex behaviours, simply do not suit intensive farming conditions. There is no effective stunning method for the slaughter of farmed octopuses, and no EU legislation exists to protect farmed octopuses. Their wellbeing and the harmony of our ecosystems should stand as our guiding principles, urging us to abandon the notion of commercial octopus farming.
Keri Tietge, Octopus Project Consultant, Eurogroup for Animals

Citizens can help to continue the momentum by signing petitions against octopus farming, joining protests such as PACMA’s Save the Octopuses Fest on 4 November 2023 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and spreading the word using the hashtags #BanOctopusFarming and #StopOctopusFarming.