Version: B | 1.1 (2022-02-21)
Condensed assessment of the species' likelihood and potential for good fish welfare in aquaculture, based on ethological findings for 10 crucial criteria.
Li = Likelihood that the individuals of the species experience good welfare under minimal farming conditions
Po = Potential of the individuals of the species to experience good welfare under high-standard farming conditions
Ce = Certainty of our findings in Likelihood and Potential
FishEthoScore = Sum of criteria scoring "High" (max. 10)
Octopus maya is an endemic species of Yucatán Peninsula (México) and highly appreciated by local fisheries and aquaculture. Though it is already cultured for the complete life cycle in consecutively bred generations and many efforts have been applied to reproductive aspects for farming purpose, wild individuals are still being introduced to improve genetic pools. Unfortunately, little is still known about its natural behaviour and spatial ecology, and there are other additional aspects to be solved from a welfare perspective. For instance, the current farming systems result in high stress for O. maya due to high densities and aggregation, which consequently increases aggression at different life stages. In addition, octopus skin is particularly sensitive and can be easily damaged during handling, transportation or stressful conditions due to confinement. A humane slaughtering protocol is not yet established since the nature and degree of any suffering during current practices are unknown. Octopuses appear capable of experiencing pain and suffering, exhibit cognitive complexity and sophisticated behavioural patterns which can be interpreted and serve as indicators of the welfare status.
1 Home range
Many species traverse in a limited horizontal space (even if just for a certain period of time per year); the home range may be described as a species' understanding of its environment (i.e., its cognitive map) for the most important resources it needs access to. What is the probability of providing the species' whole home range in captivity?There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
LARVAE: WILD: no data found yet. FARM: tanks: 7.5 m2 (5.0 × 1.5 m) 1.
ADULTS: WILD: no data found yet. FARM ➝ JUVENILES.
2 Depth range
Given the availability of resources (food, shelter) or the need to avoid predators, species spend their time within a certain depth range. What is the probability of providing the species' whole depth range in captivity?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.
ADULTS: WILD: ➝ LARVAE. FARM: ➝ JUVENILES.
Some species undergo seasonal changes of environments for different purposes (feeding, spawning, etc.) and with them, environmental parameters (photoperiod, temperature, salinity) may change, too. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the migrating or habitat-changing behaviour of the species?There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
LARVAE: WILD: distribution limited to Yucatán Peninsula (México), 11-13 h PHOTOPERIOD, 23-30 °C, seawater 7 8. FARM: 10 h PHOTOPERIOD red light, 25 °C, 32 psu 1. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
ADULTS: WILD: ➝ LARVAE. FARM: ➝ JUVENILES.
SPAWNERS: WILD: ➝ LARVAE. FARM: females and males in outdoor tanks for fecundation: 25-29 °C 1, 35.4-36 psu 2, fecundated females in indoor tanks: PHOTOPERIOD 10 h red light, 25 °C, 32 psu 1. For details of holding systems ➝ crit. 1 and 2.
A species reproduces at a certain age, season, and sex ratio and possibly involving courtship rituals. What is the probability of the species reproducing naturally in captivity without manipulation?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is high for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.
WILD: semelparous: females reproduce once and then die 9 10. Different reproduction patterns according to its distribution area, very possibly determined by oceanographic conditions of the continental shelf of the Yucatan Peninsula. Central and eastern populations reproduce throughout the year with a maximum in the coldest months, the western population exclusively in the coldest months (22-24 °C) 11. FARM: cultured for the complete life cycle in consecutively bred generations. Females and males are separated until one week before mating when they are placed together in outdoor tanks to ensure maximum fecundity of oocytes 1. Then, fecundated females of about 500 g are individually placed in a 320 L dark tank 4. For details of substrate for nest ➝ crit. 7. Copulation and vitellogenesis process sensible to temperature (22-28 °C), changes in light intensity and PHOTOPERIOD 1.
Species differ in the way they co-exist with conspecifics or other species from being solitary to aggregating unstructured, casually roaming in shoals or closely coordinating in schools of varying densities. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the aggregation behaviour of the species?It is low for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.
ADULTS: WILD: ➝ LARVAE. FARM: ➝ JUVENILES.
SPAWNERS: WILD: early reproductive aggregations 10. FARM: females and males are placed together in outdoor tanks for copulation. After copulation, females are placed solitary to deposit and take care of eggs 1.
There is a range of adverse reactions in species, spanning from being relatively indifferent towards others to defending valuable resources (e.g., food, territory, mates) to actively attacking opponents. What is the probability of the species being non-aggressive and non-territorial in captivity?There are unclear findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a low amount of evidence.
Depending on where in the water column the species lives, it differs in interacting with or relying on various substrates for feeding or covering purposes (e.g., plants, rocks and stones, sand and mud). What is the probability of providing the species' substrate and shelter needs in captivity?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is high for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
LARVAE: WILD: BENTHIC, occupy muddy or calcareous bottoms, with occasional hiding places, and can also be found in seagrass meadows formed mainly by Thalassia testudinum, in empty shells of gastropod mollusks (Strombus gigas, S. costatus and Pleuroploca gigantea), and existing caves in the karstic earthenware of the bottom or among coral rocks 6 15. FARM/LAB: erratic swimming during their first 10 days post hatching next to the bottom (necto-benthic behaviour), artificial grasses offered as refuge 4 16. Dark tanks recommended 1.
JUVENILES: WILD: ➝ LARVAE. FARM/LAB: dark outdoor tanks with greenhouse meshes that reduce the direct sunlight by 70% 17 1. Stress, cannibalism, and aggression can be reduced by providing shelter and hiding places, which can be PVC tubes or conch shells (e.g. Megalongena corona bispinosa) 18 17. Three shelters per octopus recommended 17.
ADULTS: WILD: ➝ LARVAE. FARM: ➝ JUVENILES.
SPAWNERS: WILD: BENTHIC, incirrate octopus (females) lay their eggs in dens, blocking up the opening with stones to reduce vulnerability and avoid predation of the embryos 19 20. FARM: fibreglass box is offered as a refuge and posterior spawning nest 4.
Farming involves subjecting the species to diverse procedures (e.g., handling, air exposure, short-term confinement, short-term crowding, transport), sudden parameter changes or repeated disturbances (e.g., husbandry, size-grading). What is the probability of the species not being stressed?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
Deformities that – in contrast to diseases – are commonly irreversible may indicate sub-optimal rearing conditions (e.g., mechanical stress during hatching and rearing, environmental factors unless mentioned in crit. 3, aquatic pollutants, nutritional deficiencies) or a general incompatibility of the species with being farmed. What is the probability of the species being malformed rarely?There are no findings for minimal and high-standard farming conditions.
The cornerstone for a humane treatment is that slaughter a) immediately follows stunning (i.e., while the individual is unconscious), b) happens according to a clear and reproducible set of instructions verified under farming conditions, and c) avoids pain, suffering, and distress. What is the probability of the species being slaughtered according to a humane slaughter protocol?It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.
Common slaughter method: cooling by immersion in seawater at 2-8 °C, as recommended for sub-tropical cephalopod species 22, to induce loss of sensation and enable humane killing 23. High-standard slaughter method: indications that stunning by immersion in MgCl2, followed by spiking of the brain is most effective in other octopus species (O. vulgaris) 24. Further research needed to confirm for farming conditions and to determine whether this applies to O. maya as well.
Side note: Domestication
Teletchea and Fontaine introduced 5 domestication levels illustrating how far species are from having their life cycle closed in captivity without wild input, how long they have been reared in captivity, and whether breeding programmes are in place. What is the species’ domestication level?
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 4 25, level 5 being fully domesticated.
Side note: Forage fish in the feed
450-1,000 milliard wild-caught fishes end up being processed into fish meal and fish oil each year which contributes to overfishing and represents enormous suffering. There is a broad range of feeding types within species reared in captivity. To what degree may fish meal and fish oil based on forage fish be replaced by non-forage fishery components (e.g., poultry blood meal) or sustainable sources (e.g., soybean cake)?
All age classes: WILD: carnivorous; prey on crustaceans, bivalves, fish, gastropods, other octopuses, and even birds 14. FARM: accepts artificial diets immediately 27. Fish meal may be completely* replaced by non-forage fishery components 28.
*partly = <51% – mostly = 51-99% – completely = 100%
BENTHIC = living at the bottom of a body of water, able to rest on the floor
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 4 = entire life cycle closed in captivity without wild inputs 26
FARM = setting in farming environment or under conditions simulating farming environment in terms of size of facility or number of individuals
IND = individuals
JUVENILES = fully developed but immature individuals, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
LAB = setting in laboratory environment
LARVAE = hatching to mouth opening, for details ➝ Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
PHOTOPERIOD = duration of daylight
SPAWNERS = adults during the spawning season; in farms: adults that are kept as broodstock
WILD = setting in the wild
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