World Animal Day Webinar
We hosted a World Animal Day webinar to celebrate the first World Animal Day where decapod crustaceans have been officially recognised as sentient animals according to UK law.
The webinar was hosted by our new CEO Dr Ben Sturgeon. It's a great opportunity to meet Ben, learn more about fascinating decapods, and hear about our campaign!
If you missed it, catch up now:
Q: How will the change in legislation translate into welfare standards?
A: The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act acknowledges the sentience of decapods and means they will have to be considered in future policy decisions. The act provides a strong foundation from which we can work to get decapods protected in other laws which will improve their welfare, as well as the development and implementation of codes of practice to stop cruel practices. We'll be advocating for these codes of practice to be legal not voluntary.
Q: Is Crustacean Compassion concerned that farming of decapod crustaceans may increase globally including in the UK? If so, would you agree it would be important for the Welfare of Farmed Animals Act also to be updated to include farmed DC species?
A: Yes, we believe that the legal definition of ‘farmed animals' should include aquatic animals like decapods as well as land animals.
Q: How do you suggest, if decapods are still to be eaten, they should be killed? And presumably fish are not considered as sentient, as they are not treated well.
A: Currently, the most humane way to slaughter a decapod crustacean is to firstly stun them effectively using an electrical stunner, then immediately mechanically kill them, before cooking.
Decapods should only be stunned using methods that result in instantaneous (within one second) insensibility to pain and distress or where insensibility is induced without causing pain and distress. This insensible state must be maintained until death occurs. Slaughter must then also occur instantaneously, or the insensible state must be maintained until death occurs. Killing should always be carried out by trained and competent practitioners, and never by amateur consumers, thus it is not possible to humanely slaughter decapods at home.
Our work specialises in decapod welfare, so we do not focus on fish. However, there is very strong evidence for fish sentience and there are many groups working to improve the welfare of fish.
For those interested in fish welfare, one of our supporters has recommended a book called "What a Fish Knows" by the biologist Jonathan Balcombe.
Q: How do we regulate slaughter if it is happening at homes and restaurants?
A: For an animal to be slaughtered humanely it must be carried out by a trained and competent individual, not amateur consumers, therefore decapods should not be slaughtered at home. Alternative options already exist for consumers to purchase decapods that have been prepared ahead of time for example many farm shops now stock UK ‘dressed crab’. It would not be considered acceptable to slaughter a chicken or a sheep in a home kitchen and it is equally unacceptable for decapods like lobsters and crabs.
In restaurants, there are electrical stunners already in used in restaurants which enable an animal to be stunned before slaughter.
Q: I'm really appalled by the home delivery idea. How can we (the public) best campaign to end this?
A: Take our current Amazon action! We’re asking supporters to send a pre-written letter to Amazon, asking them to stop the live sale of decapods on their website. Follow the link below and scroll down find and complete the action: https://www.crustaceancompassion.org/take-action
Once you’ve done this, don’t forget to subscribe to emails to stay updated on the progress of this campaign!
Q: If we see decapods being treated inhumanely, can we now report this to the RSPCA?
A: The RSPCA have been extremely supportive of our campaign. However, at this time the RSPCA would not be able to act upon a report of a decapod being boiled alive or sent in the post. This is because the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act has not imposed any bans or made any practises illegal – it is still legal to boil a lobster alive for example. The Sentience Act means that decapods must be viewed as sentient when considering future policy decisions. So, if a policy decision may impact decapods negatively, this must be factored into the outcome. While this provides a great foundation to work on getting decapods included in other laws, there is no immediate impact on their treatment.
Q: In light of the recent changes to Government who are less environmentally supportive, are you optimistic for improved decapod advocacy, or has it always been equally as challenging?
A: Each set of Government has brought with them their own opportunities for change as well as challenges. For the new Government, there will be a busy parliamentary schedule which will include a raft of animal welfare legislation that was set-up by the previous government.
We will continue to advocate for the legal protection and humane treatment of decapods.
Q: What approach is Crustacean Compassion taking to educate the public about decapod welfare?
A: Crustacean Compassion maintains a fact-based, professional approach to the campaign and engagements with stakeholders. We have been developing our 5-year strategy and in the coming years we will have an increased focus on educational work to encourage human behaviour change in consumers as part of a larger societal change in attitudes towards decapods. Our website and social media platforms provide extensive information and opportunities to learn not just about decapod sentience and protection in law but also about their interesting and unusual lives.
Q: You mentioned "roadmaps to legislative change". Are you referring to (in addition to any new legislation) changes through secondary legislation to the animal welfare laws which already exist, so that they start to include decapods? And presumably the stage after that would be for Crustacean Compassion to bring one or two test cases?
A: Yes, that's exactly it. We are calling for the Animal Welfare Acts across the United Kingdom to be amended to reflect the recognition of fact that decapod crustaceans are now sentient under law. We have already started those discussions both at Westminster and with the devolved administrations. Once those amendments have been secured decapod crustaceans will then be given the same basic protections as all other sentient animals. As any enforcement unfolds, we may consider further strategic litigation as and when needed but in the first instance we lobby for policy change and work with industry to see this in practice.
Q: Do you foresee that proposals for improving welfare best practice within codified documents will require science-based evidence to allow them to be recognised?
A: Yes, the development of legislation and codes of practice does require sufficient scientific evidence. It is essential that the codes of practice developed are effective for the species in question. A thorough understanding of the species and the process are crucial. The involvement of industry is also very important. Codes of practice must be feasible, realistic, and beneficial to all stakeholders.
Q: How does this legislation effect scientific research which uses decapods?
A: In the future, when decapods are protected under ASPA, the type of experiment and number of decapods used will have to be sent to an ethics committee for approval to regulate and monitor the types of studies they are used for and ensure suffering is minimised as much as possible. The number of decapods used in science will be officially recorded and the data published annually.