No Animal Should be Mass-farmed
statement by the sea change project team
There is a unique joy in swimming with, observing and interacting with an octopus. When you look into their eyes there can be little question that a creature of uncommon intelligence is looking right back at you. It wasn’t just our movie My Octopus Teacher that spoke to the sentience of this animal, but every diver who has ever interacted with them, will likely attest to the same. Science too tells us that octopuses are intelligent and sentient beings. This has become an important factor in the media debate around establishing an octopus aquaculture farm in Spain’s Canary Islands.
At the Sea Change Project, we swim and dive in the Great African Seaforest everyday and have had the privilege of regular interactions with octopuses. Because of this emotional attachment we have formed to the animals, we have no desire to eat octopus, but we acknowledge that octopuses are part of the traditional diet of many cultures around the world. For us, the concern lies in where the animals come from and how they are treated.
The proposed octopus farm in Spain plans to produce thousands of tons of octopuses. Factory farming of any animal (we consider all animals sentient) can hardly provide the animals with the kind of care they deserve. Additionally, factory farms usually have large negative environmental impacts.
The protest around the proposed octopus farm provides a renewed opportunity to reflect on the food we eat and how it gets harvested or produced. But we are also concerned that a heated or even sensationalised media debate brings just a deeper divide in our society, when in fact we need to build bridges and work together to find sustainable solutions for challenging times. In our opinion to disrespect our planet means to disrespect ourselves.
Our work at Sea Change Project is guided by indigenous wisdom, which is to respect nature and to create a reciprocal relationship with the earth and the beings that surround us. This is strongly reflected in choosing ethical food sources in our personal lives, and most importantly so, for animal products.
For us, octopus farms are yet another reason to look into the mirror and ask ourselves what it means to be a human on our planet, at this time in history. The Earth is not just a resource for extraction, she is the source of all life required for the survival of future generations. She is a complex, living entity whose ecological systems have been refined over thousands of millennia. Whether we regard octopuses as sentient or not, they and all living things, domestic and wild are miracles of evolution, who hold an important place in the great web of life. They deserve our reverence and our compassion. So even if we do eat and farm them, we should do so from a deeply informed perspective and with the utmost care and respect.
Photo by Craig Foster