Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Scientists say lobsters and octopuses can feel pain




Nov. 22, 2021, 5:15 PM EST / Updated Nov. 23, 2021, 9:23 AM EST
By Evan Bush

Lobsters, octopus and crabs are now among animals the United Kingdom plans to classify as sentient beings, a step that could lay the groundwork for changes in how these animals are treated and slaughtered in the  country.

The British government, which is working on a reformation of its animal welfare laws following Brexit, added cephalopods (including squids and octopus, among others) and decapods (lobsters, crabs and shrimp, among others) last week to the roster of species included in a bill that would formally recognize some animals’ capability to experience feelings such as pain. The bill would create a committee that aims to ensure the  U.K. considers animals’ sentience as it designs public policy.

The original bill considered all animals with backbones as sentient, leaving out other creatures  such as lobsters, octopus and crabs. The expansion comes after a report by the London School of Economics found these animals have the capacity to experience pain or distress. 


The report considered commercial animal welfare concerns and recommended against practices  such as live boiling lobster without stunning, declawing crabs or selling live decapods to untrained handlers.

The report could not identify a humane way that’s commercially viable to kill octopus and other cephalopods, the report says.

The main ways people on fishing vessels kill these creatures in European waters — clubbing them, slicing their brains or by asphyxiating them in a suspended net bag, shouldn’t be acceptable, the report says. 


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