Who could have thought a few years back that octopus tentacles would be gracing the platters across America? No doubt, this was once the stuff of nightmares. But, not anymore. The demand is increasing by leaps and bounds. Everyone knows that octopuses have been objects of wonder and pretty desirable for long across the planet.
But, catching them in their traditional habitats like Spain and Japan has become quite an uphill task these days as global warming and acidification of seas threaten their existence. Octopuses have always been caught wild. But, how ethical is that in the current situation? The question is now arising and quite rightly so. Therefore, the only way that remains is to cultivate octopus artificially. Again, is that feasible? Instead, is it possible?
What Are The Challenges Of Octopus Farming?
For decades, farming octopuses have proved to be challenging. It’s tough to reproduce their natural life cycle in a lab. It’s tough to reproduce their natural life cycle in a lab. There are several reasons behind that. The cephalopods are famous for their intelligence and complex behavioral pattern. They can open a jar quite deviously to catch a morsel of food and can even make its way through a hole that’s less than or equal to the diameter of their eyeball. Next, cannibalism is very common in octopus. If they are close to each other, they will automatically be prone to it. These are some basic challenges that one faces while raising them in artificial conditions.
Which Countries See A High Demand?
Octopus meat has a large number of minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats. It is mild-tasting, delicate, and chewy. Therefore, the demand for octopus meat is increasing with every passing year. In Japan, octopus meat makes for a popular sushi dish. In Korea, they serve a live octopus on the plate. The Koreans have a liking for live and squirming octopuses.
Two-thirds of octopus meat comes from Asia, with China providing half of it. The countries that are very popular for octopus meat are Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Spain. People in China, as well as Australia, are growing fonder of octopus meat gradually. Americans are slightly different from them as they have a knack for octopus tentacles. Global production has almost doubled since 1980. With increasing demand, overfishing is leading to a decline in the number of wild octopus. Therefore, their availability in the market is also going downhill. As a result, the dwindling numbers are leading to the artificial farming of these mollusks.
Is Raising Octopuses For Food Ethical?
It’s time to consider some major aspects, including how you can raise octopuses artificially. They are quite appropriate for aquaculture. For some people, these creatures are pure emotion, and that itself is much more than sufficing the taste buds.
It might take you by surprise to know that there are folks who sort of have a love affair with them. They will never eat them. Big brains, advanced curiosity, and a complex behavioral pattern set these creatures apart from many. Therefore, raising them to adorn your platter has become the subject of unethical practice. Moreover, there are various potential impacts on the environment as well, argue the experts.
Why Is Octopus Farming Unethical?
Some major attempts to cultivate octopus artificially are being in the Mediterranean, Australia, South America, Asia, and the United States. Aside from that, one Japanese firm will start its operation by the end of 2020. But the ethical aspect remains. Should people farm octopus?
Why is it unethical? Well, the proponents of animal rights and even some scientists argue that the practice of artificial octopus farming is immoral and cruel. The mollusks are highly intelligent creatures that need environments that are dynamic and stimulating in nature. They have a strong memory and can identify human faces. Additionally, they have a larger nervous system in comparison to other invertebrates. Raising them under artificial conditions is not something that the experts and scientists believe to be right either!
An open letter that had 100 scholars’ signature stated that cultivating octopus for food is not right on both ethical and environmental grounds. They argue that isolating, sterilizing uninspiring, and controlling conditions are not favorable for their growth. And these will have a detrimental effect on the well-being of a creature, which is famous for its high intelligence. Its requirement of stimulation to control and even manipulate its surroundings.