London, May 12 (IANS) Researchers have said that plans to create octopus farms in coastal waters around the world are ethically inexcusable and environmentally dangerous and called on private companies, academic institutions and governments to block funding for these ventures.
Experts say that farming octopuses would require the catching of vast amounts of fish and shellfish to feed them, putting further pressure on the planet’s already threatened marine livestock, the Guardian reported on Sunday.
The group, led by Professor Jennifer Jacquet of New York University, argued that octopuses are highly intelligent, curious creatures and farming them intensively would probably cause large numbers of deaths from stress.
“We can see no reason why, in the 21st century, a sophisticated, complex animal should become the source of mass-produced food,” Jacquet told the Guardian’s Sunday supplement, Observer.
“Octopuses eat fish and shellfish, and supplying enough to feed large numbers of them puts further pressure on the food chain. It is unsustainable. Octopus factory farming is ethically and ecologically unjustified.”
There are about 300 species of octopus and many behave in surprisingly sophisticated ways. Some have been shown to use tools, according to the researchers.
Octopuses are also a culinary delicacy. About 350,000 tonnes are caught every year and served in restaurants worldwide.
But the case for octopus farming is weak, according to Jacquet and her co-authors the study published in the Issues in Science and Technology journal.
The main markets for the animals – the US, Europe, Japan and China – are areas where people are already well-fed. Octopuses are delicacies and do not deserve to be the focus of intensive farming.
At present, these farms are still at the development stage, said Peter Godfrey-Smith of Sydney University, a contributor to study.