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Press Release: 14 February 2018


Michael Gove was presented with a petition today signed by over 35,000 people calling on Defra to “Show Lobsters Some Love”. The petition was presented as a giant Valentine’s Day card for Gove to sign in his capacity as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It was presented by Crustacean Compassion, the animal welfare organisation calling for the protection of decapod crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters in UK law, today (14 February). 


Earlier this year, 56 leading scientists and public figures, including the British Veterinary Association, the RSPCA, wildlife broadcaster Chris Packham and comedian Bill Bailey, signed an open letter to DEFRA calling for the protection of decapod crustaceans (i). The letter, circulated by Crustacean Compassion, argued that scientific evidence indicates decapod crustaceans are capable of experiencing pain (ii). It is therefore unacceptable to boil them alive or keep them in conditions where their welfare is not considered, such as storage in grossly overcrowded and brightly-lit tanks.  

Switzerland banned the practice of boiling lobsters alive last month; and last week, Amazon came under fire for facilitating the sale and delivery of live lobsters to home consumers.  


Invertebrates are not currently included in the definition of ‘animal’ in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (England and Wales). However, a clause in the Act states that they may be included if “the appropriate national authority is satisfied, on the basis of scientific evidence, that the animals concerned are capable of experiencing pain or suffering”. Crustacean Compassion says that Defra’s proposed Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill (iii) offers an opportunity to finally recognise decapod sentience in law. The proposed Bill is currently under consultation with the legal definition of ‘animal’ up for debate, and the animal welfare group says it is vital that this opportunity is taken to make a long overdue change to the law. 


Maisie Tomlinson, Crustacean Compassion’s Campaign Director said “Over 35,000 people have signed the petition calling for decapod crustaceans to be protected in animal welfare law. The best Valentine’s Day card Michael Gove could send today would be to the thousands of crabs, lobsters and other decapod crustaceans legally subjected to cruel practices. We ask him to show lobsters some love and ensure that they are among the first invertebrates to be protected under the new Bill.” 

To read Crustacean Compassion's petition visit 


- ENDS -  


Lobster Love? Six fun facts about crustacean romance: 

  1. Female lobsters ”undress” to mate, casting off their hard shell as they enter the den of the male and then staying in his  den until her shell grows back. 

  2. It’s a myth that lobsters mate for life, but they are ‘serial monogamists’, spending up to two weeks together in the den after mating. 

  3. Female hermit crabs  have sartorial preferences: they are more attracted to male crabs which wear certain species of shells. 

  4. It’s likely that hermit crabs can recognise each other across a crowded rockpool, as repeated couplings have been observed.  

  5. Shore crabs can be either red or green. Research has found that the red males have higher mating success, being more desirable to females.  

  6. When choosing a mate, male blue crabs prefer females that have red claws, compared to black or white ones.  



Notes to Editors 

Crustacean Compassion is an animal welfare organisation campaigning for the humane treatment of crabs, lobsters and other decapod crustaceans in the UK.  

For an accessible overview of the issues, please see our report.

Media Enquiries: 0203 871 3302 or email


(i) Open letter:

(ii) Scientific evidence of decapod sentience:


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