top of page


Mutilation is a term used to describe a procedure that destorys, removes, or irreparably damages the limbs or body parts of an animal. Despite causing stress and pain, these procedures are practiced in order to adapt the animal to their post-capture environment, often for economic gain.

Screenshot 2023-08-24 153032.png


Declawing is carried out in both fisheries and at sea and involves the removal of one or both claws from decapod crustaceans, most commonly crabs.

Removal of claws results in poor welfare, including impaired feeding and poor survival outcomes. Declaws crabs have been known to touch or shield the wounded area [1], which is consistent with the view that these animals experience pain and distress. There is a further reduction in quality of life and survival rates if animals are returned to the sea after declawing, as they cannot feed or defend themselves. 

Claw nicking

Claw nicking is a way of immobilising the claws of a decapod crustacean to make them easier to handle, and to prevent fighting while being transported or stored. Parts of the claw are fractured and cut, resulting in an open wound. This in turn can lead to infections, tissue damage and increased mortality rates (83% in nicked crabs compared to 16.7% in non-nicked crabs) [2].

Screenshot 2023-08-24 153841.png

Claw banding

Claw banding is another form of immobilisation. Although less invasive than nicking, it significantly restricts natural behaviour and movement. Long-term banding has been associated with muscle atrophy, inhibited feeding, and stress. 

Eyestalk ablation

Eyestalk ablation is the removal or destruction of one or both eyestalks, most commonly carried out on breeding female shrimps or prawns. It is done to increase egg production as the eyestalk contains glands which regulate the animal’s ovaries. 

However, there is strong evidence that the practice causes serious harm to animals. Studies show that metabolic, hormone, and immune systems are all impacted by the practice [3-5] as well as increasing rates of mortality [3]. Behaviours such as tail flicking, flinching, and rubbing the wound are all consistent with the experience of pain. 

Screenshot 2023-08-24 154055.png
Berried female_V notched tail - 2GE5ADE.jpg


Tail (or v-) notching is a practice used to identify pregnant lobsters (known as berried females) so that they can be returned to the sea, allowing them to continue reproducing. A “notch” is created by removing a small triangular piece of the tail fan to enabled quick and easy identification should they be inadvertently captured again.

Although intended as a means of protecting the species, the removal of tissue from live lobsters can still cause pain and distress through handling, blood loss, risk of infection, and long-term impacts such as reduced predator awareness and locomotion. 

[1]  McCambridge, C., Dick, J.T.A., & Elwood, R.W. (2016). Effects of Autotomy Compared to Manual Declawing on Contests between Males for Females in the Edible Crab Cancer Pagurus: Implications for Fishery Practice and Animal Welfare.

[2] Johnson, L., Coates, C.J., Albalat, A., Todd, K., & Neil, D. (2016). Temperature-Dependent Morbidity of "nicked" Edible Crab, Cancer Pagurus.

[3] Bae, S.H., Okutsu, T., Kang, B.J., & Wilder, M.N. (2013). Alterations of Pattern in Immune Response and Vitellogenesis during Induced Ovarian Development by Unilateral and Bilateral Ablation in Litopenaeus Vannamei.

[4] Sainz-Hernandez, J.C., Racotta, I.S., Fierro-Coronado, J.A., & Diarte-Plata, G. (2008). Effect of Unilateral and Bilateral Eyestalk Ablation in Litopenaeus Vannamei Male and Female on Several Metabolic and Immunologic Variables.

[5] Luciane, M., Perazzolo, L.M., Gargioni, R., Ogliari, P., Margherita, A.A., & Barracco, M.A.A. (2002). Evaluation of Some Hemato-Immunological Parameters in the Shrimp Farfantepenaeus Paulensis Submitted to Environmental and Physiological Stress.

bottom of page