Octopus Farming Ban Introduced In California Assembly

By U Cast Studios
February 22, 2024

Octopus Farming Ban Introduced In California Assembly
Image Courtesy Of CalMatter

A bill that would both ban octopus farming in California and ban farmed octopus from being imported into the state was introduced in the Assembly on Wednesday.

This article was written by Evan Symon and originally published by The California Globe.

Assembly Bill 3162, authored by Assemblyman Steve Bennett (D-Ojai), would specifically prohibit a person from engaging in an aquaculture activity in the state that involves the propagation, cultivation, maintenance, or harvest of any species of octopus for the purpose of human consumption. The bill, also known as the Oppose Cruelty to Octopuses (OCTO) Act, would also prohibit a business owner or operator from knowingly engaging in the sale in the state of octopus that is the result of an aquaculture activity that involves the propagation, cultivation, maintenance, or harvest of any species of octopus. Finally, AB 3162 makes it clear that “aquaculture activity” would cover both ocean-based and land-based farming methods.

Assemblyman Bennett wrote the bill because of evidence showing that octopi are intelligent creatures, that current farming methods may be major stressors on them, and that breeding and harvesting methods can be seen as cruel.

“These highly functional creatures have captured our fascination for as long as we have been telling stories,” Bennett said in a press release. “Octopuses are primarily solitary creatures that are not suited for large scale breeding. They have demonstrated an aptitude for learning and their acute intelligence is becoming well recorded among the scientific community.”

“Outside the U.S., there is a growing trend of recognizing the sentience of this eight-legged cephalopod and the inappropriateness of captive breeding and harvesting it. AB 3162 will prevent needless, systemic harm to these captivating animals.”

In addition, a bill co-sponsor, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) added, “This is a key moment, not only in California but around the country, in the effort to protect octopuses from the scale of suffering that other animals already endure on factory farms. Californians have demonstrated their concern for the welfare of animals, and this bill is an opportunity to continue that commitment by leading on this issue with proactive legislation. We commend Assemblymember Bennett’s efforts to stop octopus farming in its tracks in California.”

Octopus farming bill

While there is no formal opposition against the OCTO Act bill just yet, the octopus farming industry, as well as seafood importers and exporters, are likely to opposet it.

“This bill is going too far, and it will hopefully be either voted out or whittled down through amendments,” explained Steve Yamada, a distribution executive at a Seafood company in Los Angeles, to the Globe on Thursday. “I’m surprised that Sarah McLachlan wasn’t singing over the bill when it was introduced.”

“This bill is more pre-emptive than anything else, because large-scale octopus farms are a very new thing. As in months old. The bill here is trying to make it sound like they are on every street corner.”

“What Bennett and the others aren’t telling is that wild caught octopus catches have been declining for years, and there are real worries about overfishing them. So octopus farms were put up as a way to alleviate pressure on wild stocks so that they could recover. It was a real reaction to help octopi in the wild recover. But they never like to mention that fact.”

“California has a lot more important things to worry about than octopus farm bans honestly, but since this is now in the forefront, I’d love to hear what he thinks the alternative should be. Reducing fishing of octopi isn’t an option because no country wants to set quotas on them like they did with whales. If farming isn’t the answer, what is then?”

Bennett currently has another bill in the Assembly looking to limit commercial fishing. AB 3162 is to be heard in Assembly Committees soon. Similar bills in both Hawaii and Washington are also to be heard this year.

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