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News Icon 2/13/2024

by Ben Williamson

UPDATE 3/14/2024: Octopus farming has been officially banned in the state of Washington after Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1153 into law on March 13. 

UPDATE 2/28/2024 - The bill to prohibit octopus farming in the state of Washington (HB 1153) has passed in the Senate with a 29-20 vote, with the governor set to sign it into law within three weeks.

Special recognition is due to the leadership the Aquatic Life Institute and local grassroots movements have provided to achieve this positive outcome.

Compassion in World Farming's U.S. Campaigns Manager Allison Molinaro testified in support of the bill in front of the Senate in mid-February.

A screenshot of Allie Molinaro smiling while she virtually testifies in support of HB 1153, with a sign language interpreter in the corner
U.S. Campaigns Manager Allie Molinaro testifies in support of bill HB 1153.

2/13/2024 - A bill to ban octopus farming in the state of Washington passed a historic test this week. The state’s House of Representatives voted 70 to 27 in favor of the groundbreaking legislation (HB 1153), which now moves into the legislature’s Senate chamber for further consideration.

CIWF scientists support efforts to ban octopus farming

Last year, Compassion in World Farming’s aquaculture team wrote to House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and Rules Committee members, urging them to set a “leading example at international level for this critical issue.” CIWF’s senior research manager, Dr. Elena Lara, informed the Washington legislators that all the scientific evidence relating to octopuses showed that they “are likely to suffer in farm conditions and that this would be a wholly unsustainable and environmentally damaging practice.” Dr. Lara is a member of The Advisory Committee of the Aquatic Animal Alliance (AAA), a coalition of animal welfare non-profit organizations led by the Aquatic Life Institute that is driving the legislative efforts in Washington.

CIWF’s 2021 report Octopus Factory Farming – A Recipe for Disaster, notes that, as naturally solitary animals, octopuses would not fare well in the crowded conditions and high stocking densities typical of factory farm systems. Octopuses are known for their extraordinary intelligence. Due to their natural curiosity and tendency to explore over distance and manipulate and control their environment, they would be unable to express their natural behaviors confined in barren underwater tanks. Moreover, there is currently no validated method for the slaughter of octopuses that has been scientifically approved as humane, non-aversive, and painless.

Octopus farming would wreak environmental havoc

In addition to being an animal welfare nightmare, octopus farming is also unsustainable. Octopuses are carnivorous animals, and rearing them requires feeding large quantities of animal protein. Capturing large amounts of fish, bivalves and crustaceans to feed the farmed octopuses would exacerbate overfishing in the oceans.

In Hawai’i in 2023, authorities shut down the Kanaloa Octopus Farm after CIWF wrote to the state’s governor urging him to withdraw support for the tourist trap on Big Island. The Aloha State found that the farm had been illegally taking juvenile octopuses from the wild without the proper permits and took steps to close the facility permanently.

Plans continue to open the world’s first industrial octopus farm in Spain

While the Washington state bill represents a pre-emptive effort to ban octopus farming, a real threat exists off the coast of Africa. The Spanish seafood company Nueva Pescanova, has applied to open the world’s first commercial octopus farm in the Canary Islands. On World Octopus Day (October 8th) last year, CIWF joined forces with 75 NGOs, experts, and public figures worldwide to urge the Canary Islands government to reject the plans. Thousands of CIWF supporters also took action, urging the president of the autonomous Spanish community to stop the octopus farm.

Take action now and stop the octopus farm.

Ben Williamson smiling at the camera wearing a black Compassion in World Farming t-shirt

Ben Williamson leads Compassion in World Farming's US office, overseeing the running of its campaigns, food business, and operations. Originally from London, England, Ben has over a decade of experience working for leading animal protection organizations in both the United States and United Kingdom. As a lead spokesperson, Ben has made numerous television appearances including NBC, CNN, Fox News, CBS, and Good Morning America and authored numerous op-ed pieces in USA Today, Newsweek, New York Daily News, Independent and more. Ben holds a Master’s degree in Political Science and Political Economy from London School of Economics and Political Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from University College London.



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