WAV Comment – Whoever says this is not cruel, and these creatures are not sentient; then we suggest they (the doubters) put their arm / hand into a pot of boiling water. We thiink their views may then change !
Lobsters are sentient, Government concludes, as calls grow for ban on live boiling
Lobsters, crabs and octopuses are sentient, ministers have decided, in a move that could pave the way for a ban on live boiling. George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, on Friday moved to strengthen new animal welfare laws after a government-commissioned study found strong scientific evidence to suggest the species had the capacity to be aware of feelings and sensations.
Carried out by researchers at the London School of Economics, the report concluded that decapods, which include crabs, lobsters and crayfish, and cephalopods, such as squid and octopuses, are sentient.
In response to the study, Mr Eustice has now tabled an amendment to the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, seen by The Telegraph, which would extend its scope beyond vertebrates to cover all decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs.
If approved by Parliament, the changes would mean that ministers will be answerable in future to a newly formed animal sentience committee and required to demonstrate that the Government has taken into account the ways in which policies may impact the welfare of the animals.
New codes of best practice
Government sources acknowledged it was now “feasible” that this would lead to other pieces of animal welfare legislation being amended to end certain practices, such as the live boiling of crabs and lobsters.
However, other Whitehall sources pushed back against suggestions there could be changes to existing industry practices.
Drawing on evidence from 300 scientific papers, the report assessed the welfare implications of current commercial practices and has recommended a series of changes to improve the treatment of crustaceans and molluscs.
It includes banning the declawing of crabs and the nicking of their tendons; the removal of the eyestalks from shrimps, live dismemberment or decapitation; and boiling alive as a method of slaughter, unless the animals have been stunned first.
However, for species such as squid and octopus, it said that the current evidence suggested there was no slaughter method that is “both humane and commercially viable on a large scale”.
The authors have therefore called for new codes of best practice to be developed and for further research to be conducted on how the animals can be slaughtered humanely at sea.
‘Untrained, non-expert handlers’
Meanwhile, it recommended that ministers should now implement a ban on imports of farmed octopus, noting that because the animals are “solitary” and “often aggressive towards each other in confined spaces” it is “impossible” to conduct “high-welfare” farming.
The study goes on to suggest that there should also be a ban on live lobsters and crabs being sold to “untrained, non-expert handlers”, noting that currently they can be ordered from online retailers, such as Amazon.
“This practice inherently creates a risk of poor handling and inappropriate storage and slaughter methods,” it states. “Ending this practice would be an effective intervention to improve the welfare of decapods.”
On Friday night, Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International UK, said: “Recognition in law that animals like lobsters and octopus are sentient is a very welcome affirmation that this Bill is underpinned by science.
“It’s critical that animal sentience is not determined subjectively on the basis of political, economic or cultural preference or convenience, but that it is determined on facts, and the LSE report leaves no room for doubt on that front.
“This is an important first step to establishing more respectful treatment of these amazing animals. Knowing their capacity to suffer, we cannot now turn a legislative blind eye to some of the appalling things that are done to them, such as dismembering or boiling them alive. We look forward to working with government, industry and scientists to agree and implement humane solutions.”