The installation of an infrastructure destined to the breeding of octopus in captivity in a space of the Port Authority of Las Palmas has generated this Monday the rejection of international animal organizations such as PETA or the match PACMA, who have asked the Government of the Canary Islands not to “go ahead” with the plans to open the plant.
This is an announcement made in July last year by the Port Authority of Las Palmas and the Nueva Pescanova company, which at that time estimated its investment at 65 million euros to raise Atlantic octopus in captivity, the largest to date in the Puerto de La Luz, although that amount could be around 45 million, according to what a company director told Cadena SER on Monday, who pointed out that the plant would begin operating in 2023.
Captive octopus breeding is a highly complex practice that has taken more than 25 years to become a reality. Those responsible for the success: researchers from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), whose patent to develop captive breeding was acquired by Nueva Pescanova in mid-2019.
The company, in collaboration with the IEO, has ensured that the common octopus, or rock octopus, born in aquaculture not only reaches adulthood, the furthest that had been reached until 2019 with captive octopuses, but also begins to reproduce in an environment outside its natural habitat.
The Galician company plans to settle in a space of 52,000 square meters in the La Esfinge dam, although it is awaiting permits from the Canarian Government, specifically from the General Directorate of Fisheries and the General Directorate of Transition Ecology and Fight Against Climate Change.
“At this time, it is going through the environmental impact validation process and if it complies with the regulations, it will be given permission for its implementation,” sources from the Regional Executive’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries have told Efe. valued the project as it was, they said, “a milestone” from the scientific point of view.
Regarding the project, the General Directorate of Fisheries is aware that it is “a farm on land, with a swimming pool area for breeding and the first place in the world where octopuses that have already closed the cycle are cultivated.”
In addition, they detail that the larvae of the common octopus are expected to be fed with algae, and that, once this process has passed, the cephalopods are fed with feed and crab.
Sources from the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Fight against Climate Change have indicated that the processing time of the environmental impact statement “will be marked by the volume of processing files of the Ministry”, although they have declined to make assessments “of any kind regarding this project, or other projects that are under evaluation.”
In a document provided to Efe, the Port Authority of Las Palmas has responded to queries made by animal groups such as PACMA, who asked about the status of the project and the start-up plans.
The port institution has transferred to this party that the infrastructure of Nueva Pescanova does not yet have the corresponding administrative concession to be able to develop in the port public domain as it is in the processing phase.
“The granting procedure is, at this time, in the mandatory process of environmental impact assessment that is processed before the Government of the Canary Islands and, specifically, in the General Directorate of Fisheries (as a substantive body) and the General Directorate of Fight against Climate Change and the Environment (as an environmental body)”, states the document, which adds that once this evaluation has been carried out, a public information process is planned, in which the project can be accessed.
“When this phase passes, it will return to the Port Authority for award”, added a spokesperson for the entity.
At the time, the president of the Ports of Las Palmas, Luis Ibarra, declared that the importance of this investment is not only because of what it represents for aquaculture, “but a tribute to the history of the port that was the world’s leading exporter of octopus” .
Meanwhile, the project has aroused complaints from PETA and from PACMA itself, which this Monday denounced in a note what will be the first octopus breeding farm for its “intensive” breeding and for its “murder to turn octopuses into meal”.
“Octopuses have been known to try to escape captivity and even throw water at their captors, so we can only imagine the stress an aquatic factory farm would cause these intelligent beings,” said PETA UK Vice President Europe and Australia, Mimi Bekhechi, who has added that these “fascinating and highly intelligent” animals should be respected and allowed to live in their natural environments, “not locked up and killed for tapas”.