Boiling lobsters alive will be illegal as study confirms they feel pain

Lobsters
The report recommended against live boiling of lobsters and other crustaceans. Credits: Pexels

It might soon be illegal to boil lobsters alive thanks to a government-commissioned study that confirmed crustaceans can feel pain just like us.

The research done by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) found that there was strong scientific evidence that these animals have the capacity to experience pain, distress or harm.

This means that they will be recognised as sentient beings in the upcoming Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill.

‘The science is now clear that decapods and cephalopods can feel pain and therefore it is only right they are covered by this vital piece of legislation,’ said Animal welfare minister, Lord Goldsmith.

Up until now, decapod crustaceans – including crabs, lobsters and crayfish – and cephalopods- including octopuses, squid and cuttlefish – have been excluded from the Bill.

This was despite the animals having complex central nervous systems, one of the key hallmarks of sentience.

‘After reviewing over 300 scientific studies, we concluded that cephalopod molluscs and decapod crustaceans should be regarded as sentient, and should therefore be included within the scope of animal welfare law,’ said Dr Jonathan Birch, associate professor at LSE’s Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science.

Following the findings for this study, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will table an amendment to the Bill as it moves through Parliament, to recognise the change.

Octopus
Octopuses have complex central nervous systems, one of the key hallmarks of sentience. Credits: Pexels

‘The amendment will also help remove a major inconsistency: octopuses and other cephalopods have been protected in science for years, but have not received any protection outside science until now,’ added Birch who is also the principal investigator on the Foundations of Animal Sentience (ASENT) project.

The UK is set to take the lead on animal welfare by protecting these invertebrate animals that humans have often completely disregarded according to researchers.

The report also recommended against the sale of live crabs and lobsters to untrained handlers, and extreme slaughter methods such as live boiling without stunning.

The announcement ‘will not affect any existing legislation or industry practices such as fishing,’ according to Defra.

‘There will be no direct impact on the shellfish catching or restaurant industry. Instead, it is designed to ensure animal welfare is well considered in future decision-making,’

‘The UK has always led the way on animal welfare and our Action Plan for Animal Welfare goes even further by setting out our plans to bring in some of the strongest protections in the world for pets, livestock and wild animals,’ said Lord Goldsmith.

Once it becomes law, the Bill will bring about the creation of an Animal Sentience Committee, which will publish reports on how well government decisions have taken into account the welfare of sentient animals, with ministers needing to respond to Parliament.

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