Today, the Washington House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee advanced a bill that would ban octopus farming in the state. The first-of-its-kind bill serves as another warning to potential aquaculture entrepreneurs and investors to walk away from this cruel and unsustainable business.
Octopus farming is a tricky business—so tricky, in fact, that it has yet to be done successfully. The octopus lifecycle is not yet understood by science, and to date, no one has been able to raise an octopus in captivity from juvenile to adulthood. Many factors, such as water temperature, salinity, pH, pressure, and more, could influence survival.
Still, entrepreneurs looking to pioneer a new market for farmed octopus meat have continued trying to crack the code. To date, only one octopus farm exists in the United States, in Hawaii. Despite researching the octopus lifecycle for several years, none of the octopuses born in the facility have survived longer than 13 days. State officials recently shut down the farm temporarily for violating state laws regarding octopus possession and for taking octopuses from protected waters.
In 2022, Compassion in World Farming published a report outlining the welfare and environmental implications of octopus farming. Solitary, fragile, and inquisitive, octopuses would not fare well both physically and psychologically in crowded, barren tanks. In addition, octopuses are carnivorous, meaning more fish would need to be caught or farmed just to feed them, threatening our already collapsing ocean ecosystems.
Despite the current challenges of octopus farming, the threat of a rising octopus farming industry is still of concern. If passed, Washington's bill would proactively eliminate this threat before the industry gains power. The bill also discourages potential octopus farm entrepreneurs from further pursuing the venture, as more states may pass their own bans.
Compassion in World Farming's Fish and Aquatic Animals team submitted detailed comments to the committee urging them to support the bill. This morning, the bill moved forward from committee with a 9-2 vote and now awaits a vote in the House.