Animal advocates gathered in Madrid on Sunday to protest plans to build an octopus farm in Spain, saying there is no law in the country or the European Union to guarantee the welfare of animals in captivity.
The farm, which aims to cultivate octopus on a large scale, is set to be built next year in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean.
A few dozen people have come forward to express concern about a project that plans to confine 3 million octopuses to swimming pools, despite the fact that these creatures are solitary hunters in their natural habitat.
“It is like putting tigers in prison. They will hunt each other and also try to escape because of their high intelligence and skills,” said Jaime Posada, spokesperson for the protest called by various animal welfare organisations.
According to Nova Peskanova, the seafood company that promotes this farm, captive-bred octopuses will behave differently than those in the wild. Since 2018, the company has been running a pilot project at a research center in northern Spain, where they have managed to breed five generations of captive-bred cephalopods.
“In the European Union, no species (animal) can be farmed without respecting welfare conditions. This is a way of acting in Europe. And our group does nothing more than follow the rules and regulations” , declared Roberto Romero, director of aquaculture for the multinational.
As the demand for octopus consumption is increasing, octopus farming is considered the first step to ensure sustainable food production.
Octopus is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, especially popular in Spain and Italy, although both import most of the octopus they consume. Recently, global demand for this dish has expanded, with countries such as the United States seeing imports increase by 23% and China by 73% between 2016 and 2018, according to the United Nations Agriculture and Food Organization (FAO). experienced growth.