The arrival of the octopus farms is fast approaching. So far, animals have escaped agriculture because they are extremely difficult to feed soon after birth, and have a low survival rate. But technological advances and experimentation are making this possible. A Japanese seafood company hatched octopus eggs in 2017 and hopes to see the octopus grown for sale until next year; a Mexican farm would have grown octopuses, and farms in Spain and China are also entering the business.
That's not worth celebrating, according to four marine researchers who put forward their arguments in the winter edition of 2019. Science and Technology Issues. On the one hand they observe, the octopuses are carnivorous and thus cultivating them increases the pressure on the ecosystem because the farmers have to catch a huge amount of wild fish to feed them. Octopus breeding would "increase, not relieve, the pressure on wild aquatic animals," they write. "The dusts have a feed conversion ratio of at least 3: 1, which means that the weight of the feed needed to sustain them is about three times the animal's weight."
But there is also a problem unique to the octopuses: they are incredibly intelligent. "One study found that the octopuses maintained the knowledge of how to open a capped flask for at least five months," marine researchers write. "They are also able to master complex landscapes, carry out extensive foraging trips and use visual landmarks to navigate." Octopuses are considered the only definitely conscious invertebrates, meaning that they are the most developed animals that are less similar to humans and as such the closest thing to an alien on this planet.
Agricultural dusts probably mean that they will be kept in small containers with monotonous lives that do not satisfy their need for mental stimulation and exploration. In addition, researchers note, so far the cultivating dams are linked to increased aggression, parasitic infection and high mortality rates.
Of course, the argument not to grow octopus raises the question: why grow other animals? Salmon may be less intelligent than octopuses, but chances are they still enjoy playing in the streams and deserve a nice lifestyle. It would take considerable effort to end long-standing farming practices (such as sheep, which began 9,000 years ago, say researchers). Before we start creating the octopus, at least we have the chance to reconsider: is this really the right way to treat another animal?