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Image by Claude Potts

What's the problem?


Animal welfare laws do not protect animals like crabs, lobsters & prawns (decapod crustaceans) in the UK, despite having been recognised as sentient and able to feel pain. This means inhumane practices throughout capture, handling, storage, transport, and slaughter can continue - cruelty that would simply not be tolerated for other animals, for example:

  • Boiled alive whilst fully conscious

  • Live animals sold pre-packed in clingfilm, slowly suffocating whilst completely immobilised

  • Sent in the post to consumers for home slaughter

  • Limbs pulled off whilst they’re fully conscious

  • Home slaughter by inexperienced consumers - they can store and kill them however they wish

There is a desire from food industry to follow best practice in this area. However, until decapod crustaceans are better protected by welfare legislation, the UK government is not obliged to draw up guidelines for their humane treatment. This means that even where businesses want to do the right thing, there is little guidance available for them. Crustacean Compassion want to change that!

Yes, an official government report put together by a team of expert scientists was published in November 2021 with the clear conclusion that animals such as crabs, lobsters, prawns and crayfish (decapod crustaceans) are capable of feeling pain. Read more.


The author's central recommendation is:

"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 be included in the scope of any future legislation relating to animal sentience."

The Sea-to-Plate journey

A crab trap being lifted out of the water with crabs in it, Cancer pagurus (iStock-1176849

Capture methods vary greatly depending on species and scale, but all have the potential to compromise welfare and cause suffering. Read more


Mutilation is a term used to describe a procedure that destroys, removes or irreparable damages the limbs or body parts of an animal. Read more.

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At some stage in their life, decapod crustaceans destined for the food industry will experience holding and storage. Read more.


Transport via sea, air and land can last for several days, subjecting these animals to stressful and inappropriate conditions. Read more.

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The process of 'stunning' means the animal becomes completely insensible to pain and distress, carried out before slaughter. Read more.

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Decapod crustaceans are slaughtered in a number of ways, all of which come with the potential for severe and prolonged suffering. Read more.

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