Bill to ban octopus farming passes Washington senate

A ground-breaking bill to prohibit octopus farming has passed the Washington State Senate with a vote of 29 in favour of the legislation, whilst 20 senators sat in opposition.

The bill was advocated for heavily by multiple animal rights NGOs, including the Aquatic Life Institute (ALI) and the Aquatic Animal Alliance – a coalition of animal rights groups. The organisations repeatedly urged state legislators to support the bill to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee last year, as well as the House Rules Committee and the Senate Rules Committee this year.

The Aquatic Life Institute, which also works with corporations on procurement policies banning the purchase of farmed octopus, stated in a press release that their concerns towards cephalopod farming stem from the nature of octopuses as “highly intelligent and complex animals that suffer greatly in captivity due to their solitary and inquisitive nature.”

“Furthermore, there are no approved humane slaughter methods for these animals, and their carnivorous diet makes farming them unsustainable and damaging to the environment. Nitrogen and phosphorus waste would be a product of the octopus farms, as would contamination from fertilisers, algaecides, herbicides, and disinfectants. It is also possible that diseases would spread from the farms to the wild environment, and aquatic animals living in those environments,” they added.

The passing of the bill at the state Senate level represents a significant success for ALI, and comes as other states, such as Hawai’i and California introduce similar bills which prohibit the farming and sale of certain species of octopus.

ALI is hopeful that the progression of these bills will encourage similar legislation across other locations, both within the US and globally.

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