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Now a ban on boiling live lobsters is a step closer as ministers recognise crustaceans as sentient

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Now a ban on boiling live lobsters is a step closer as ministers recognise crustaceans as sentient beings

  • The Government has recognised crabs, octopus and lobsters as sentient beings
  • A report for ministers confirmed evidence of sentience in decapod crustaceans
  • It recommended that they should be included in animal protection legislation 










A ban on boiling lobsters alive came closer yesterday after the Government recognised crabs, octopus and lobsters as sentient beings.

An amendment to the Animal Welfare Bill currently going through Parliament was tabled which makes it illegal to cause needless harm and suffering to invertebrate animals.

It came after a report for ministers by the London School of Economics confirmed there is strong scientific evidence of sentience in decapod crustaceans, such as crab and lobster, and cephalopod molluscs, octopus and squid.

Stunning lobsters with an electric gun or by chilling them in cold air or ice before boiling is a more humane method, according to animal welfare charities

Stunning lobsters with an electric gun or by chilling them in cold air or ice before boiling is a more humane method, according to animal welfare charities

It recommended that they should be included in animal protection legislation.

There had previously been much debate over whether lobsters and crabs have feelings similar to vertebrates – animals that have a backbone – as they have different nervous systems.

The amendment published on the Government’s website read: ‘This amendment adds cephalopod molluscs and decapod crustaceans to the definition of “animal” for the purposes of the Bill.’

This would make it an offence for any person who is responsible for a kept animal – including crabs and lobsters – to cause it unnecessary suffering or to fail to provide for the animal’s welfare needs.

Though the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) insists this will have no impact on restaurant kitchens, campaigners could use the new law to argue in court for a ban on boiling the animals alive in eateries as they say there are less painful ways to kill them.

An amendment to the Animal Welfare Bill currently going through Parliament was tabled which makes it illegal to cause needless harm and suffering to invertebrate animals

An amendment to the Animal Welfare Bill currently going through Parliament was tabled which makes it illegal to cause needless harm and suffering to invertebrate animals

It is currently illegal to do this in Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand.

Stunning lobsters with an electric gun or by chilling them in cold air or ice before boiling is a more humane method, according to animal welfare charities.

But restaurateurs are unlikely to be impressed by the new law, which may make them subject to checks by Defra and, if a ban does come into effect, could criminalise those who kill the lobsters in a traditional way.

The move has been pushed for by animal welfare minister Lord Goldsmith and the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson – who are patrons of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (CAWF).

Lord Goldsmith said: ‘The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill provides a crucial assurance that animal wellbeing is rightly considered when developing new laws.

‘The science is now clear that crustaceans and molluscs can feel pain and therefore it is only right they are covered by this vital piece of legislation.’

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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