Whitby opinion: campaign to protect our vulnerable crustaceans

On May 11 2021, the Government announced a raft of animal welfare reforms, including the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, which will ensure animals are recognised as sentient beings that experience feelings.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 10:33 am
Updated Monday, 5th July 2021, 10:34 am
Brown crab.

This important piece of legislation could protect animals throughout the UK, post Brexit.

However, many people are concerned that some of our most vulnerable animals might be omitted from the bill – decapod crustaceans. 

As a coastal town, these animals have a special significance for Whitby.

Decapods, including crabs and lobsters, are now widely regarded in the scientific community as sentient animals, capable of feeling pain.

They are protected in the animal welfare legislation of several other countries, but not yet in the UK.

Crustacean Compassion is an award-winning organisation, dedicated to the humane treatment of decapod crustaceans.

Many leading experts, professional bodies and animal welfare organisations, including the British Veterinary Association, supported Crustacean Compassion’s campaign to protect decapod crustaceans.

As a result, Defra commissioned an investigation into whether decapods (and cephalopods) are sentient animals, capable of feeling pain. 

This was completed last year, yet the findings have not yet been publicly released, resulting in a danger that these animals may be excluded from animal welfare legislation, including the Sentience Bill and Animal Welfare Act.

The Sentience Bill could provide the first ever reprieve for the millions of decapods who are boiled alive, or are otherwise killed in brutal ways without any pre-slaughter stunning.

An edible crab, boiled alive, may remain conscious for at least three minutes.

Maisie Tomlinson, co-founder and co-Director of Crustacean Compassion said: “We know that many people in coastal communities such as Whitby now feel that cramming animals into brightly lit and overcrowded tanks, leaving them for hours out in the sun, and sending them to processors who will boil them alive is no longer acceptable, now that their ability to feel pain and suffer is so widely accepted.

“We urge Defra to release the report into decapod sentience, and encourage the fishing and food industry to work with us to find solutions that put high welfare British shellfish on the map.”

Please write to your MP, requesting that he contacts Defra Minister Zac Goldsmith urging him to ensure decapod crustaceans are included in the definition of ‘animal’ in the Sentience Bill and any other relevant legislation.

Visit https://www.crustaceancompassion.org.uk/take-action to send an email to your MP, Robert Goodwill.