Animal rights activists protest against an octopus farm in Spain

Animal rights activists gathered in Madrid to protest the construction of a large octopus farm

Animal rights activists protest outside the Ministry of Agriculture in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 21, 2023. Activists have protested plans to build the first large-scale octopus farm, saying there are no laws in the country or the European Union. ensure the welfare of octopuses in captivity. The farm is planned to be built next year in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Associated Press

MADRID — Animal rights activists gathered in Madrid on Sunday to protest plans to build an octopus farm in Spain, saying the country and the European Union lacked adequate laws to guarantee the welfare of animals in captivity.

A proposed farm aimed at large-scale captive breeding of octopuses is set to be built next year in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.

Dozens of people turned out to voice their concerns about a project to trap 3 million octopuses in swimming pools, despite the creatures being solitary predators in their natural habitat.

“It’s like imprisoning tigers together. They will chase each other and also try to escape due to their high intelligence and skill,” said Jaime Posada, a protest representative invited by various animal protection organizations.

Octopuses raised in captivity will behave differently than they would in the wild, said Nova Pescanova, the seafood company that promotes the farm. Since 2018, the company has been running a pilot project at a research facility in northern Spain, where they have succeeded in breeding five generations of cephalopods born in captivity.

“It is not possible to grow any (animal) species in the European Union without respecting their welfare conditions. It’s a standard and our group does nothing but comply with guidelines and legislation,” says Roberto Romero, the multinational’s aquaculture director.

As the demand for octopus consumption increases, octopus farming is considered the first step to ensure sustainable food production.

Octopus is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, particularly popular in Spain and Italy, although both import most of the octopus they consume. Global demand for this delicacy has expanded recently, with countries such as the United States seeing a 23% increase in imports and China experiencing a 73% increase from 2016 to 2018, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.


This story has been corrected to show that the speaker’s last name is Posada, not Poasada.

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