Why should we end octopus farming?
The demand for octopuses is growing drastically because their meat contains lots of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Their meat is common in Asian countries, and ⅔ of octopus catch comes from the Asian continent. In South Korea, for instance, octopuses are eaten while they are still alive, in Japan, they are used in sushi.
Octopuses are highly intelligent and complex animals. They are able to open a jar to get a piece of food, squeeze through a hole no bigger than the diameter of their eyeball, and also tend to be cannibalistic if they are kept in close quarters. Moreover, they are “shape-shifters to the extreme, can disappear in a cloud of ink, and can recognize human faces due to their forms of short and long-term memory. They have as many neurons as many mammals and larger nervous systems than any other invertebrate.”
Some scientists and animal rights activists have been arguing against octopus farming because they find it unethical, cruel, and immoral. In one open letter that was signed by more than 100 scholars, the authors state that octopus farming is wrong due to environmental and ethical reasons. Specifically, they claimed that “the sterile, controlled, isolating, and uninspiring conditions in a farming operation would negatively affect the well-being of a highly-intelligent creature that requires stimulation and seeks to control and manipulate their environment.” One of the authors of the letter said that “beyond their basic biological health and safety, octopuses are likely to want high levels of cognitive stimulation, as well as opportunities to explore, manipulate, and control their environment. Intensive farm systems are inevitably hostile to these attributes.”
Octopuses consume fishmeal and fish oil in farmed conditions, and those are coming from overfished stocks. Furthermore, these animals “require three times their weight in food to sustain them,” and while a farmed octopus may satisfy humans, “it would be ecologically inefficient.” According to one of the authors of the letter, “around ⅓ of the global fish catch is turned into feed for other animals, roughly half of which goes to aquaculture. Many fishmeal fisheries are subject to overfishing and are declining.”
Read more: The Case Against Octopus Farming
Octopuses are extremely smart animals being capable of recognizing people, using tools, and have escape skills. Octopuses are very charismatic animals, thus, besides farming, they are kept in aquariums too. Octopuses, like many other animals, play a significant role in the entire ecosystem. Out in the oceans, aquatic species depend on each other, and the octopus is not an exception. Octopus farming is another contribution to the overfishing activities issue since farmed octopuses are fed with fish from overfished stocks. Several species of aquatic animals prey on octopuses in the wild, such as birds, moray eels, sperm whales, sea otters, so the disappearance of octopuses may simply lead to the lack of resources for other aquatic animals. And while every species is dependent on one another, while humans are capable of taking necessary steps, it is not too late to stop contributing to the seafood industry to save aquatic life that keeps our oceans healthy.