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Online Sales of Live Decapods

Animals like crabs and lobsters (decapod crustaceans) are sold online in the UK by retailers such as Amazon. This involves the animal being delivered alive to the consumer, then stored and slaughtered in the consumer’s home. There are many ways in which this process negatively impacts their welfare. This is an issue of particular importance at this time of year as sales of live lobster increase significantly around Valentine’s Day, as well as Christmas and during the summer months.

Trapped in packages

Online sales of live decapod crustaceans puts these fragile animals at risk of injury, suffocation, and death. This is because the animals can spend hours or days in transit, trapped in boxes, sometimes crammed together in groups.

In contrast to their natural habitats, these inappropriate transport conditions can cause extensive stress and suffering.


At risk of breaks, fractures, and suffocation

As aquatic animals, many species of decapods are unable to consume enough oxygen in air - they simply need water. Denied this, they are at risk of a slow, agonising death whilst they await delivery.

They're not only at risk of suffocation, but also breaks, fractures, and potentially fatal injuries as crab and lobster bodies are extremely fragile.

Delays and delivery complications not only increase the journey times but also further increase the harm inflicted to these animals.

The suffering doesn't end there...

Once delivered, crabs and lobsters who were ordered live online may then be kept, handled and slaughtered inappropriately in the consumer's home. 


It is extremely challenging to create the right environment for storing decapods. They require specific conditions to ensure their health and welfare needs are met. These include factors such as the correct water quality, temperature, salinity and light. Many people also store crabs and lobsters in the fridge or freezer prior to killing and cooking, but this method of chilling is also inhumane. For more information on this, see 'Chilling'.


Those who survive are then at risk of an inhumane death, often being carved up into pieces while fully conscious or boiled alive.

To humanely slaughter a crab or lobster, they must firstly be stunned effectively, followed by mechanical killing, before they are cooked. These steps required for humane slaughter must be carried out by a trained professional, and so it is therefore not possible for an untrained consumer to humanely slaughter crabs and lobsters at home, without causing extreme suffering.

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Take action now

With your help, we can put a stop to this unnecessary suffering.

We're calling on MPs to support our plea for a permanent policy change on the online sale of live decapods, like crabs and lobsters. Use our handy pre-written letter to write to your MP today or donate to help us #DemandMoreForDecapods. Thank you.

Three European lobsters laid on a wooden table

Find out what is required for an animal to be considered able to feel pain, and how decapods meet these requirements.


For more information on our position on key welfare issues, check out our welfare policies and position statements.

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