The Government is preparing to recognise that lobsters, crabs, octopuses, squids and other invertebrates feel pain as part of a new Animal Welfare Bill that will formally acknowledge that animals are sentient beings. Under the Bill, anyone planning to cook these creatures will need to kill them in a more humane manner, such as with an electric gun or by chilling them in cold air before boiling.
At present the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, which is making its way through the House of Lords, covers only vertebrates – animals that have a backbone- and not invertebrates such as lobsters, crabs and squids.
Following calls from animal welfare charities, the government has commissioned a review of the available scientific evidence on sentience in both crabs and lobsters.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We are proud to have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and we are fully committed to strengthening them further to ensure all animals avoid any unnecessary pain, distress or suffering.
“There is more than enough evidence for the ability of these sensitive, captivating creatures to feel pain and suffer. They undergo appalling treatment in the food industry.”
The practice of boiling lobsters is already prohibited in New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland.
But if pursued, the plans could be deemed as controversial by those in the fishing industry who catch more than 400 million crustaceans in the UK each year.