Octopus farming

Plans are in motion for the world’s first industrial octopus farm to open in the port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Led by Spanish multinational company Nueva Pescanova, farmed octopus products could appear on the market as early as 2023.

Octopuses have limited protections in EU legislation and little is known about their complex welfare needs in captivity. As a new industry, there also is no scientifically-validated method accepted for the humane slaughter of octopuses. Consequently, this first farm in Spain will have no welfare requirements or standards to abide by as production begins, which includes plans to raise 3,000 tonnes of octopus per year — This translates to nearly one million individual octopuses suffering and facing painful deaths annually.

Aside from ethical concerns, octopus farming poses several threats to the environment. For instance, due to the carnivorous nature of octopuses, a high ratio of fish will be required for their feed. Wild capture fisheries are already over-fished, and the fishmeal and fish oil markets are operating in highly unsustainable ways. The proposed land-based farming system will require continual replenishment of water by pumps, which is typically an energy intensive process. The proposed building site of this aquaculture facility is located within close proximity (approximately 800 metres) to marine protected areas that are part of the EU Natura 2000 network. Disturbances from the construction of this new aquaculture facility as well as potential contaminants introduced during operations could cause significant damage to these important habitat areas and diverse protected species.

Take a look at Compassion In World Farming’s report on eight reasons why octopus factory farming is cruel, damaging to the planet, and must be stopped.

fish manipulation

Did you know?

  • As highly inquisitive and intelligent creatures, octopuses are exceptionally ill-suited for farms.

  • Without an internal or external skeleton for protection, octopuses have fragile skin that can be easily damaged in aquaculture tanks.

  • Octopuses are solitary by nature and may turn toward cannibalistic tendencies in crowded farming conditions.



As invertebrate species, octopuses are currently not included under any EU farm animal welfare legislative protections. However, intensive octopus farming is fundamentally unaligned with the EU’s Strategic Aquaculture Guidelines. These guidelines emphasise the need to transition to low-trophic species and reduce the reliance on fishmeal and fish oil as high-priority sustainability criteria within aquaculture.

Contrary to these principles, there has been speculation that Nueva Pescanova has requested EU funding, specifically from NextGeneration EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, to support their octopus farming endeavours. This would be an inappropriate usage of EU public funding that is meant to drive sustainable development.


Eurogroup for Animals wants an EU ban on octopus farming to be adopted. The UK government commissioned a report published by the London School of Economics and Political Science in November 2021, concluding that octopuses are sentient beings in need of legal protection. Their findings suggested high-welfare octopus farming is unattainable. 

  • For the current EU animal welfare legislative review to include a ban on production and import of farmed octopus.

  • Public funds not to be available for unsustainable farming systems.