What We Do
“We recommend that all cephalopod molluscs and decapod crustaceans be regarded as sentient animals for the purposes of UK animal welfare law. They should be counted as “animals” for the purposes of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and included in the scope of any future legislation relating to animal sentience.”
Dr Birch and team (2021) - Review of the Evidence of Sentience in Cephalopod Molluscs and Decapod Crustaceans. London School of Economics and Political Science
Crustacean Compassion wants all decapod crustaceans to be treated humanely. We see this as a moral necessity in order to stop the appalling treatment that millions of decapod crustaceans are subjected to each year, since many people who handle them are incorrectly told that they are incapable of pain and suffering. It is also an opportunity to show that our animal welfare values are as progressive and as scientifically informed as those of other nations, such as Switzerland, Norway, and New Zealand who already protect their welfare.
Our case is built on both scientific evidence and ethical reasoning, which we use to raise public awareness through Campaigning; to implement changes to Industry practices; and to apply pressure on Policymakers to change the law.
Animals like crabs, lobsters, prawns and crayfish (decapod crustaceans) face extreme pain and suffering every day. Throughout commercial food production, they are often torn apart and boiled alive – practices that would be completely unacceptable in vertebrate animals like pigs or chickens. Live decapods are even sold alive online or packaged tightly bound in plastic. Find out more.
Much of the decapod crustacean supply chain is hidden from public view, so our campaigning efforts seek to raise public awareness not just of these cruel practices, but of how fascinating and deserving of compassion these vulnerable animals are. Our campaigns allow fellow animal lovers to show their support for improved decapod welfare, via petitions, selfie walls, demonstrations, writing to your MP, and more - always with the end goal of securing them greater legal protection and improved industry practices (read more on these below).
Our current campaign highlights the issue of ‘tailing’ - a practice that sees live nephrops (langoustines) dismembered so that their tails can be used in the scampi trade. Find out more and be a part of animal welfare history today.
Working with Industry
Crustacean Compassion work closely with the seafood industry to help define welfare expectations and implement positive changes to the practices used throughout the decapod crustacean supply chain, from fishing and processing to retailers and restaurants.
We’re proud to have developed the UK’s first industry benchmark on decapod crustacean welfare, The Snapshot, which assesses leading seafood producers, processors, and retailers on their management and reporting practices. The Snapshot will be repeated regularly to monitor progress within the industry, identify areas for improvement and celebrate welfare advances. The Snapshot will also provide consumers with information they need to make informed choices about the seafood they buy. Learn more.
Another key project is the Crustacean Industry Welfare Hub (CIWH), developed by Crustacean Compassion to help companies improve decapod crustacean welfare in their supply chains by providing bespoke resources and latest industry news to its members.
By working with the food industry to identify and adopt the highest welfare practices for decapods, Crustacean Compassion aim to help businesses realise the benefits of good welfare policy – for decapods, companies and consumers alike.
The inclusion of decapod crustaceans in the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022 was a landmark occasion, recognising animals like crabs, lobsters, and prawns (decapod crustaceans) as sentient animals in UK law for the first time. With this under our belt, we’re now working to get these sentient animals protected in other relevant legislation. This includes:
The various Animal Welfare Acts covering England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, which introduce a duty of care on people who are responsible for animals
The Animals in Scientific Procedures Act (ASPA), which regulates the use of animals in experiments
We are also working to ensure that any animal protection legislation that does include decapod crustaceans is adequately enforced. This includes:
The Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (WATOK) legislation (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), which is designed to ensure that animals are killed by a trained individual in a way which does not cause unnecessary suffering
The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Orders (WATEO) legislation (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), which is designed to ensure that the needs of animals are met during transport
Our work involves engaging with policymakers by using the overwhelming scientific evidence that’s available to argue for improvements to the welfare of decapod crustaceans. We regularly meet with politicians across the political spectrum to inform them of our campaign efforts, we draft Parliamentary Questions to obtain information from the government and provide information for MPs when they are speaking in debates. We’re proud of the relationships we’ve built with civil servants across the UK, and the information sharing that this enables allows us to work collaboratively and efficiently for decapods. We also work closely with other animal protection organisations as part of the Better Deal for Animals Coalition.
The aim of our policy work is to ensure not only that decapod crustaceans are included in animal protection legislation in the future, but also that existing regulations are sufficiently enforced. Our efforts are supported not just be compelling scientific evidence but also by cross-party support.