comment by kierangreig ·
2021-12-23T21:47:48.132Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
First, I think this is a really good flag on an important issue and a great first post :)
As others mentioned CIWF have a good Octopus farming report highlighting the terrible consequences for animal welfare (underrated but I believe that Octopus could live 2-3 years in these conditions). I believe CIWF also presented the report to the Animal Welfare Intergroup of the European Parliament! They have also written to various places (governments, governors etc.) trying to have the practice outlawed or shut down.
Specifically within some of the key countries in Europe for this, namely Spain and Italy, Equalia and Essere Animali respectively might have interest in working on this. Though so far I am unsure how much either have worked on this.
However, I guess I’d say prospects for nipping this in the bud from a legislative perspective seem unclear to me. As in, say a country like Spain outlaws the practice of farming octopus (which in itself may be pretty unlikely), then I think a big multinational company like Nueva Pescanova (the company claiming to start the first commercial octopus farm) perhaps just goes to some other country they work in (and they are present in 20ish).
Further, research labs all over the world (US included) continue to chip away at farming octopus. And if one of the big seafood/fish farming countries in east asia (think Japan and/or China) takes up the helm, which they may as they have both big seafood companies and big domestic markets for octopus, I am really not sure we have the political power there yet (or will for some time) to try and nip it in the bud there.
A line of reasoning that I am maybe a bit more optimistic about is that perhaps we can nip this one in the bud from a capital perspective?
Nueva Pescanova (the company claiming they’ll be selling farmed octopus in 2023) has some seemingly poor financials. They went through a debt equity swap earlier this year and had basically declared bankruptcy and then restructured in ~2015.
They are reportedly planning to invest over 50M euro to create the farm. The farm will produce 2400 tonnes of finished product annually. The wholesale price for the wild type of this octopus product is ~11,000 euro/tonne (p.13). If that is the wholesale price, it gives ~26M euro turnover a year. I think it also takes more than a year to raise octopuses to be adults so they may not see that for 2-3 years, so maybe that should be modelled as being time discounted.
Then the running costs for the port facility would involve reportedly employing 450 staff (at ~20k euro each that would come to 9M euro/year). It will also take the equivalent of at least something like a few tonne’s of fishmeal per tonne of octopus (fishmeal at ~1250 euro per tonne) and would guess they have to use feed somewhat more expensive for octopus. Electricity sounds like a big factor too given they wanted to go ahead with the farm in the canary islands (rather than having the farm in Galicia, Spain the companies, headquarters, they looked to the canary islands because the electricity bill there would not be excessive). So might I’d tentatively guess they could be looking at millions of dollars per production cycle in electricity costs.
All that is probably why they are seeking a grant from the EU to fund this first farm. Otherwise they could be looking at least several years until getting a positive ROI on it. So I think that could be a good thing to target efforts against, as if the EU doesn’t offer funding, plausibly this farm doesn’t go ahead. But maybe Nueva Pescanova would just go ahead with it anyway though, and just absorb some greater initial losses though.
Same food for thought at least! I guess would be curious to find groups who might want to target that capital side of it now. Replies from: Lizka, Jamie_Harris
↑ comment by Jamie_Harris ·
2021-12-26T21:22:53.993Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Some of your thinking and estimates here seem reasonable and useful! I just want to pick up on one small subsection that surprised me:
"As in, say a country like Spain outlaws the practice of farming octopus (which in itself may be pretty unlikely), then I think a big multinational company like Nueva Pescanova (the company claiming to start the first commercial octopus farm) perhaps just goes to some other country they work in (and they are present in 20ish). "
Why did this surprise me / why are our intuitions different?
I think there might be some difference in optimism about the value of legislation.
I expect that preventative action is much more tractable than retrospective action to abolish an industry that has already been developed. E.g. see "It is probably easier to abolish a practice through legislation if that practice is not in regular use" here: https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/death-penalty#the-causes-of-legislative-change . So challenging the first example of an unusually negative (and/or unusually unpopular) practice seems especially important. If fighting this specific company encourages a battle that spirals across several countries and results in legislation in several places but fails to stop this specific company farming octopus somewhere then I imagine I would consider that to be a major victory.
Relatedly, I have in my head a model where anti octopus farming legislation in one country makes anti octopus farming legislation in another. E.g. see "Once influential international bodies adopt a value, they may exert pressure on institutions in other parts of the world to adopt the same value" at the same link as above.
Alternatively, maybe it's because you're focusing on helping the octopuses in question in this specific farm. Whereas my concern is not: "(how) can we prevent Nueva Pescanova farming and selling 3,000 tons of farmed octopus per year," but "(how) can we prevent (octopus) farming?"