clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Crabs and lobsters can feel pain when you boil them, research shows

U.K. plans to classify lobsters, octopuses and crabs as sentient beings

Lobsters in Hong Kong.
Lobsters seized by the Hong Kong Customs during an anti-smuggling operation are displayed at a news conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. Lobsters, octopuses and crabs will soon be classified as sentient beings, bringing on possible change for how these animals are treated in the United Kingdom.
Kin Cheung, Associated Press

Lobsters, octopuses and crabs will soon be classified as sentient beings, bringing on possible change for how these animals are treated in the United Kingdom.

A report, commissioned by the United Kingdom government, evaluated evidence from 300 studies to conclude that cephalopods — such as octopuses, squid and cuttlefish — and decapods — crabs, lobsters and crayfish — are capable of experiencing pain and, therefore, shouldn’t be boiled alive.

“The UK has always led the way on animal welfare and our Action Plan for Animal Welfare goes even further by setting out our plans to bring in some of the strongest protections in the world for pets, livestock and wild animals,” said Lord Zac Goldsmith, the Animal Welfare Minister.

  • The country’s Animal Welfare bill, which isn’t a law yet, already considers all animals with a backbone as sentient beings, according to CNN.
  • This bill will establish an Animal Sentience Committee, which will ensure that the welfare of sentient animals is considered in government decisions.
  • For now, industry practices for shellfish catching or restaurant kitchens won’t be affected, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The studies examined things such as pain receptors, ability to learn and response to pain-relieving drugs. Pain and suffering are highly relevant because they can shape animal welfare laws, per NBC News.