UK report says crabs and lobsters are sentient beings, shouldn’t be boiled alive

According to a review commissioned by the UK government, crabs, lobsters, and octopuses are capable of experiencing pain and suffering. The government has added the organisms to a list of sentient beings that will receive protection under new animal welfare laws.

The report was compiled by experts at the London School of Economics and looked at 300 scientific studies to evaluate any evidence of sentience. Researchers concluded that cephalopods, like octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish, as well as decapods, like crabs, lobsters, and crayfish, deserve to be treated as sentient beings. Under the new animal welfare legislation in the UK, all animals with a backbone, known as vertebrates, are already classified as sentient.

Based on that information, the report said lobsters and crabs should not be boiled alive, and it included best procedures for the transport, stunning, and slaughter of both decapods and cephalopods.

While the Animal Welfare Sentience Bill is not yet a law, it will establish an Animal Sentience Committee, which will issue reports on how well the government has taken into account the welfare of sentient animals in its decision making. The legislation is part of a larger government plan for the welfare of animals in the countries. 

The report utilized eight different ways to measure sentience, which included response to anesthetics or analgesics, learning ability, possession of pain receptors, connections between pain receptors and certain brain regions, and behaviors including balancing threat against opportunity for reward and protection against injury or threat.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said in a statement, “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 decapods and cephalopods can feel pain and therefore it is only right they are covered by this vital piece of legislation.” 




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