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Press Statement: 19 November 2021

Press Statement: Government commissioned report confirms that lobsters and crabs can feel pain

Crustacean Compassion, the leading organisation campaigning for the humane treatment of decapod crustaceans (animals such as crabs, lobsters and prawns), welcomes the findings of a research project commissioned by the UK government which has been released today. This ground-breaking project reviewed the evidence for sentience in decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs (a group including octopus and squid). Sentience is the capacity to experience feelings such as pain. 


The research project was led by Dr Jonathan Birch of the London School of Economics (LSE), and the team included animal science experts from Cambridge University and the Royal Veterinary College, who reviewed evidence from aquatic animal welfare experts, the shellfish industry, animal welfare organisations and the experimental science sector as part of their investigation.   


After analysing the extensive research submissions over several months, the peer-reviewed LSE report has concluded that there is strong scientific evidence of sentience in decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs, and recommends that they should be included in animal protection legislation.


Juliette Booker of Crustacean Compassion said:

“We are very pleased that LSE agree animals like crabs and lobsters can experience pain, and we applaud Defra for commissioning this ground-breaking review. The government now have all the information that they need to make animal welfare history, and we urge them to take immediate steps to protect decapods and cephalopods in animal welfare legislation.” 


Claire Howard of Crustacean Compassion said:

“This is a review of the vast amount of detailed, robust and compelling scientific research on the sentience of animals like crabs and lobsters. The evidence is clear, these animals are capable of feeling pain and should be protected in animal welfare legislation. We strongly welcome the findings and recommendations of this report. Crustacean Compassion looks forward to continuing to work with government, scientists and industry on improving the welfare of the 420 million decapods landed into UK ports each year.”

Notes to Editors: 

Crustacean Compassion is an award-winning animal welfare organisation dedicated to the humane treatment of decapod crustaceans. We engage with legislators and policy makers to strengthen and enforce animal welfare law and policy; we work to persuade and enable companies to sell higher welfare products across their shellfish product ranges; and we seek to educate both the public and policy makers on the science of decapod crustacean sentience and on their humane treatment and care. 
Our work is grounded in scientific evidence. We do not campaign against the use of decapod crustaceans as food. We welcome good practice in the food industry and believe that all sentient creatures deserve humane treatment, determined by the needs of their species. 


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


Media Enquiries: 0203 871 3302 or email 


NB: Spokespeople are available for interview. 


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