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Image by Claude Potts

What's the problem?

It’s been two years almost to the day since decapods like lobsters and crabs were r ecognised under law as sentient, but they still have very little protection in place to stop inhumane suffering.  

One law that offers protection The Welfare at Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015 (known at WATOK) says an animal may not be killed in a way which causes avoidable pain, distress or suffering and anyone killing an animal must have the knowledge and skills necessary to do so humanly and efficiently.  

When we did a Freedom of Information to the 32 London boroughs not only did only 25 reply, we found many did not recognise that they had enforcement responsibility and one council, Kensington and Chelsea, claimed decapods are not covered under WATOK. This just isn’t true.  

The only council up to date with this law, Hammersmith and Fulham, has eight staff members working in the Food Safety Team, recognised that their Animal Welfare Charter “is in need of review going forwards”.  

It is highly unlikely that the average consumer buying a live crab or lobster from one of the London food markets or shops is able to kill them at home in a way that causes no unnecessary suffering, especially when it can take between 4 to 8 minutes for a lobster to die when being boiled alive. This suffering has to stop.  

If you live in London, can you write to the Leader of your council here. Asking them to admit they can’t enforce WATOK for decapods and to support our call for a Ban of Live Decapods to the Public.   

Can Decapod Crustaceans actually feel pain?

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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