The UK government has announced it is bringing new amendments to its animal welfare bill, recognising crabs, lobsters, octopi, squid and other invertebrates as sentient beings capable of feeling pain.
Previously the bill only covered vertebrates (i.e. animals with a backbone) and made stun-guns compulsory in slaughterhouses before killing them to adhere by a more “humane” protocol.
The commonly used method for cooking lobsters by putting them into a pot of boiling water is slowly being regarded as inhumane. A report from 2008 by Humane Society of the United States presented a “robust scientific evidence” to substantiate the claim that crustaceans were sentient animals “with the capacity to suffer”.
The report suggested that despite not having a centralised nervous system like vertebrates, they do feel pain and do not die immediately from conventional slaughter methods like plunging knives or boiling, drowning or gassing.
The report written by Stephanie Yu also noted that the lobsters struggle violently for almost two minutes after been placed inside scalding water before dying, which does not really translate into a humane slaughter.
Her belief resonated with the animal welfare fraternity and has received strong support from animal rights advocates all over the world. UK-based Crustacean Compassion has been campaigning amends to the ‘England and Wales’ Animal Welfare Act 2006 to include decapods crustaceans in their farm animals portfolio.
At the time the act came into effect, the evidence that crustaceans were capable of feeling pain was slim, so a clause was put into place to allow their inclusion at a later date, noted Crustacean Compassion. “Now there is stronger and better evidence available, there is no excuse,”
According to the British news site The Independent, the legislation comes to light after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise that all departments under the government, by law have to protect every creature’s well being when writing regulations and policy.
The legislation was initially introduced in the month of May, also gives legal protection to these animals from getting sent via post, alive.
EU law incorporated the concept of animal sentience in the year 2009, but only recently after coming under pressure from animal welfare groups, they have decided to extend the protection available for vertebrates to the crustaceans and molluscs.
The practice of scalding lobsters alive has already been rendered illegal in New Zealand, Switzerland and Austria. Here’s hoping all the other countries take notice and follow suit soon!