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ASPA: Protecting Decapods in Science

Decapods are used in science, but because they aren’t protected by laws that monitor experiments, there’s currently no way of ensuring their welfare. That’s why we’re calling on the government to change the rules for #CrabsInLabs.

What is ASPA?

Animal research in the UK is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (known as ASPA) – with the rules being updated just over a decade ago by the European Union. Before an animal can be used in an experiment the researcher must have a licence, as must the establishment where the research is taking place, and each experiment must be signed off.

This only applies to certain animals though, and decapod crustaceans like crabs, prawns and lobsters are not included – despite the legal recognition of their sentience earlier this year. The report from the London School of Economics, which led to the inclusion of decapods in the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act, was clear in it's recommendation of what needs to happen: “all decapod crustaceans are brought within the scope of ASPA.”


Changing the Law for #CrabsinLabs

Decapods can be used for any experiment, as well as being handled and kept in ways that are harmful to their wellbeing. Including decapods in ASPA would increase the transparency of their use in research. There would be guidelines to safeguard welfare and experiments would only be able to be undertaken by qualified, competent individuals. Proposed experiments would be scrutinised by Animal Welfare Ethical Review Bodies to ensure no non-animal alternatives were available.

This change would make a huge difference for these animals.


We wrote an open letter, supported by 17 other animal welfare orgs, to the Home Office calling for the protection of decapods in ASPA. Read now.

Frequently Asked


Do you have questions about the use of decapods in science? Check out our FAQs to answer all your questions

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Take action now to get these vulnerable animals protected in UK animals welfare legislation. 

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