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Concern around cephalopod farms.

Cephalopod farms. | Posted on 2022-08-30 17:02

Can cephalopods - octopus, cuttlefish, squid - be farmed sustainably? This seems to be the number one question asked after news surfaced regarding the establishment of Nueva Pescanova’s first commercialized octopus farm in Spain and a potential new Squid farming operation in Japan.

“Sustainable” cephalopod farming does not exist. Sustainable development by definition is to satisfy the demands of current generations without threatening the needs of future generations, while taking economic growth, environmental care, and social well-being into account. Under this principle, cephalopod farming is not sustainable for several reasons.

First, commercial aquaculture is unsustainable by nature. Aquaculture has been touted as a solution to overfishing and food security. However, farming carnivorous species, such as octopus and squid, requires an increase in the extractivism of marine species sourced from strained fisheries using inhumane fishing practices, contributing to a further decrease in already declining populations to acquire the carnivorous diet necessary for these farmed animals.

One study found that the optimal feeding frequency for oval squid is four to five times per day 1. Such practices exacerbate food insecurity issues in communities that could otherwise use those lower-level protein sources, that are rich in nutrients and energy, which are instead fed to farmed species. Furthermore, oval squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana) and common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) consume live food consisting of crustaceans, which are known to transmit a variety of viral, bacterial, and fungal diseases.

Second, commercial aquaculture farms carry a number of biosecurity and biophysical threats to surrounding environments. In May 2022, the Aquatic Life Institute (ALI) drafted a response to the Environmental Impact of Nueva Pescanova regarding the 1Satjarak, Jirapan, et al. “Optimal Feeding Frequency for Bigfin Reef Squid ( Sepioteuthis Lessoniana ).” Aquaculture Research, vol. 52, no. 6, 29 Jan. 2021, pp. 2740–2750, 10.1111/are.15126. execution of an octopus farm for the Government of the Canary Islands. Many of the biosecurity and biophysical risks that were discussed in this statement also apply to any potential squid farms. A large area of concern that exists at this time is the potential development and rapid spread of unknown pathogens and disease, which could create a substantial public health crisis. Major threats to cephalopod health are water quality issues, physical injury, and infection (due to parasites or other pathogens), all of which may be interrelated. Host-pathogen interactions can be strongly influenced by the environment. Further injuries may be easily inflicted by constrained captive conditions, handling, and transport.

Finally, cephalopod aquaculture farms could have detrimental effects on local aquatic animals either indirectly through unknown contaminants and pollutants transferred through discharge, or directly through farmed and wild aquatic animal interactions made possible by instances of escape. If any escapes were to occur due to human error or natural disasters that harm the integrity of enclosures, then diseases, pathogens, chemicals, etc. could be passed from farmed to wild populations leading to negative interactions with local fauna and a decrease in the genetic integrity of native aquatic animals.

The proposed development of cephalopod farming only casts a spotlight on the collection of concerns connected to these intensive practices. Rather than incentivizing the research and development of aquaculture that could be “efficient and cheap enough” to be commercialized, we should direct investment efforts towards innovative, alternative forms of seafood. From both sustainable and environmental perspectives, cephalopod farming simply should not play a role in global seafood development.

The 97 organizations and scientists that sign this statement strongly believe that government policy must focus on shifting to a global, plant-based food system in an attempt to tackle the dire climate change emergency we are currently facing worldwide. Establishing new, animal factory farms is contrary to United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Banning these types of farms now, will allow countries to develop in complete alignment with the 2030 SDG commitments moving forward.

Signed by: 

Aquatic Life Institute

Africa Network for Animal Welfare USA


Anima International


Animal Advocacy Africa

Animal Empathy Philippines

Animal Equality

Animal Friends Croatia

Animal Justice Canada

Animal Interfaith Alliance

Animal Kingdom Foundation

Animal Law Italia

Animal Nepal

Animal Rights Center Japan

Animals Aotearoa

Animals Australia

Animals Now

Apon Welfare



Arusha Society for the Protection of Animals


Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organisations

Compassion in World Farming

Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation

Crustacean compassion

The Dark Hobby

Deutscher Tierschutzbund

Dharma Voices for Animals

Dieren Bescherming

Djurens Rätt

Dyrenes Alliance

Education for African Animals Welfare

Essere Animali

Factory Farming Awareness Coalition

Feedback Global

Fish Welfare Initiative


Fórum Animal

Friends of Phillip

Ghana Animal Welfare Society

Greek Animal Welfare Fund

Green REV Institute

Humane Africa Trust

The Humane Global Network

The Humane League

The Humane League Mexico

Humánny pokrok

Institute of Animal Law Asia

Invisible Animals (Nevidimi Zhivotni)

Kafessiz Türkiye


Lady Freethinker

Mercy For Animals

National Council of SPCAs

Nurture Imvelo Trust

The Oceans Need Us

Oikeutta eläimille

One Voice

ONG Sante Animale Afrique (SAA)


Plataforma ALTO

Planet For All

Protección Animal Ecuador (PAE)


Proyecto ALA






Sea First

Sentient Media

Shellfish Network

Shrimp Welfare Project

Sibanye Animal Welfare and Conservancy Trust

Sinergia Animal

Sống Thuần Chay

SPCA Montreal

SPCA Selangor

Tanzania Animal Welfare Society (TAWESO)

Tikobane Trust

Tourists Against Trophy Hunting

University of Guilan

Utunzi Animal Welfare Organization

Vegetarianos Hoy



Voices for Animals

Voters for animals rights

We Animals

West Africa Centre for the Protection of Animal Welfare (WACPAW)


Dr. Becca Franks - New York University

Dr. Andrew Knight, University of Winchester

Dr. Walter Sanchez-Suarez, Mercy For Animals

Posted on 2022-08-30 17:02

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