Scientists have branded plans for octopus farms ‘ethically unjustifiable’ and have called on companies to block funding for the new factories.
The team of researchers have responded to news that some seafood companies hope to be shipping mass-produced octopus to restaurants by 2020.
They say the plans could be fatal for the ‘highly intelligent’ creatures and will put yet more pressure on the ocean’s livestock.
The leader of the group Professor Jennifer Jacquet of New York University, says that octopus farming is ‘ethically and ecologically unjustified.’
She says many of the octopuses could die from stress.
Professor Jacquet told the Observer: ‘We can see no reason why, in the 21st century, a sophisticated, complex animal should become the source of mass-produced food.’
‘Octopuses eat fish and shellfish, and supplying enough to feed large numbers of them puts further pressure on the food chain. It is unsustainable.’
To feed the octopuses, the companies will need to catch huge quantities of fish, which will further threaten marine livestock.
The international group have called on private companies, academic institutions and governments to block funding for the factories.
There are more than 300 species of octopus around the world and 350,000 tonnes of the seafood are already caught and served in restaurants every year.
Scientists say octopuses are ‘highly intelligent’ and have been known to use tools and even navigate simple mazes and protect the entrance to their dens.
In one experiment, the cephalopod had managed to build a shelter from coconut shells.
In June 2017, Japanese seafood company Nissui announced they had successfully hatched eggs of fully-farmed octopus using artificial incubation.
In the past, farming octopuses has been hindered because they only eat live food, making it expensive.
But it was discovered the younger creatures are less fussy eaters, making them an easy and cheap breeding stock.
Nissui is not alone, with companies in Mexico and Australia also announcing plans for mass-produced octopus in the near future.
The plans are only in the development stage but researchers hope to halt any proposals to fund the farms.
They say that octopus is a delicacy and should be not be the subject of intensive mass production.