Press release from Crustacean Compassion

Photo: Karelj, via Wikimedia Commons

Michael Gove was presented with a petition today signed by over 35,000 people calling on Defra to “Show Lobsters Some Love”. The petition was presented as a giant Valentine’s Day card for Gove to sign in his capacity as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It was presented by Crustacean Compassion, the animal welfare organisation calling for the protection of decapod crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters in UK law, today.

Earlier this year, 56 leading scientists and public figures, including the British Veterinary Association, the RSPCA, wildlife broadcaster Chris Packham and comedian Bill Bailey, signed an open letter to DEFRA calling for the protection of decapod crustaceans. The letter, circulated by Crustacean Compassion, argued that scientific evidence indicates decapod crustaceans are capable of experiencing pain. It is therefore unacceptable to boil them alive or keep them in conditions where their welfare is not considered, such as storage in grossly overcrowded and brightly-lit tanks.

Switzerland banned the practice of boiling lobsters alive last month; and last week, Amazon came under fire for facilitating the sale and delivery of live lobsters to home consumers.

Invertebrates are not currently included in the definition of ‘animal’ in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (England and Wales). However, a clause in the Act states that they may be included if “the appropriate national authority is satisfied, on the basis of scientific evidence, that the animals concerned are capable of experiencing pain or suffering”. Crustacean Compassion says that Defra’s proposed Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill offers an opportunity to finally recognise decapod sentience in law. The proposed Bill is currently under consultation with the legal definition of ‘animal’ up for debate, and the animal welfare group says it is vital that this opportunity is taken to make a long overdue change to the law.

Maisie Tomlinson, Crustacean Compassion’s Campaign Director said “Over 35,000 people have signed the petition calling for decapod crustaceans to be protected in animal welfare law. The best Valentine’s Day card Michael Gove could send today would be to the thousands of crabs, lobsters and other decapod crustaceans legally subjected to cruel practices. We ask him to show lobsters some love and ensure that they are among the first invertebrates to be protected under the new Bill.”

To read Crustacean Compassion’s petition visit

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3 Replies to “Press release from Crustacean Compassion”

  1. just to note that the petition covers all decapod crustaceans, including prawn and shrimp. Finding new ways to kill tonnes of prawns will, I suspect, be a lot more challenging than finding more humane ways to kill large individual lobsters. Of course, if you'd like to see shrimp eating banned you might support this outcome, but its slightly disingenuous I think to highlight lobsters, an occasional luxury food with obvious practical alternative methods of dispatch.

  2. "Switzerland banned the practice"

    Not a great sacrifice given the poor access for lobstermen at Bern fish dock

  3. I think this is an issue which needs addressing (along with our current methods of killing farm animals). Difficulties with one species should not preclude advances for others. Also, according to the petition, it isn't just landlocked Switzerland which has abandoned boiling animals alive, but New Zealand and Norway also.

    I have never ordered either crab or lobster because I do not like the way they are treated, and I do not eat prawns or shrimps.


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