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Lily takes the plunge to help stop octopus farm

News Section Icon Published 27/03/2024

Lily S Swim For Octopus Training Promotional Photos For Lily S Swim For Octopuses. Lily Is Taking On An Open Water Swimming Fundraiser In Algarve In 2024

Nine-year-old Lily Niederhofer, who lives in Portugal, is taking on an amazing challenge – to swim two kilometres in the Atlantic ocean to help raise funds for our campaign to stop the world’s first commercial octopus farm.

Octopus-loving Lily has been a vegetarian for years and is a passionate defender of the ocean and marine wildlife. When she heard about plans to build an octopus factory farm on Gran Canaria in Spain she was motivated to do all she could to stop it from happening.

Lily reached out to the Ocean Born Foundation which has been committed to supporting and building her campaign from the beginning. Ocean Born connected Lily with our team following her decision to donate all the proceeds from her sponsored swim to our campaigns and advocacy work to stop this octopus farm.

Lily’s octoswim challenge

While Lily is a proficient swimmer and has undertaken a number of competitions, completing this challenge in the notoriously difficult conditions of the Atlantic requires a lot of mental and physical strength.

The swimming event is due to take place on the weekend of 25th May in the Algarve. She will be training in the open water twice a week, balanced around her studies.

Serious concerns

In 2023, we, along with Eurogroup for Animals revealed plans from Spanish seafood company Nueva Pescanova to open the world’s first commercial octopus farm on Gran Canaria.

The plans raise serious concerns about the treatment and welfare of octopuses, as well as the environmental impact of such a farm. Octopuses are unique, intelligent creatures who have been known to use tools and complete tricky tasks. Naturally solitary, they are entirely unsuited to confinement and would suffer in overcrowded factory farms. They would also be slaughtered using a cruel method called ‘ice slurry’ which causes a slow and painful death.

World’s first octopus farming ban

Recently, the US state of Washington passed a bill to ban octopus farming, the world’s first legislation of its kind. However, Nueva Pescanova is still pursuing plans to open the farm in Spain, which will rear around one million octopuses each year.

There are also numerous environmental and sustainability threats from octopus farming. Rearing carnivorous octopuses requires huge amounts of feed, contributing to overfishing at a time when fish stocks are already under pressure. And there are other concerns around energy and water usage, and consequential pollution.

Lily, a compassionate animal lover and keen environmentalist, comments: “Octopuses are such incredible and intelligent creatures, they fascinate me… I recently found out about a proposed octopus farm in the Canary Islands, and I think it is really cruel to these amazing creatures.

“So, I have decided to combine my love for swimming with my passion for protecting our planet and my Octofriends”.

The Ocean Born Foundation is dedicated to protecting and restoring the ocean by creating new, sustainable streams of income that ensure the wellbeing of the planet for future generations. Through Lily's campaign, the Foundation seeks to uplift the voices of young people around the world who will need to live with the consequences of our actions today.

Find out more

Find out more about Lily's swim and how to sponsor her. 

Other kids and teenagers who love the octopus and the ocean are encouraged to join Lily as part of her Octo-Defenders Team.


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