UK classifies crabs, lobsters as 'sentient beings' after report says then can experience pain
The UK government has declared octopuses, crabs and lobsters as 'sentient beings', meaning they have some amount of consciousness and are capable of experiencing pain or suffering. This comes after an independent review commissioned by the UK government concluded that there is strong scientific evidence decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs are sentient.
The review has recommended protection for these species under new animal welfare laws.
The report has been prepared by experts at the London School of Economics (LSE). They studied more than 300 species for the study before concluding that cephalopods (such as octopuses) and decapods (such as crabs and lobsters) should be treated as sentient beings, according to CNN.
The report further said that lobsters and crabs shouldn't be boiled alive. It also suggested best practices for their transport, stunning and slaughter.
Vertebrates - animals with a backbone - are already classified as sentient under the new legislation.
"The Animal Welfare Sentience Bill provides a crucial assurance that animal wellbeing is rightly considered when developing new laws. The science is now clear that decapods and cephalopods can feel pain and therefore it is only right they are covered by this vital piece of legislation," animal welfare minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said in a statement.
The bill, when it becomes law, will establish an animal sentience committee made up of experts from within the field. It is currently under debate in the United Kingdom.
This comes months after the British government said that it is planning to make pet abduction an offence. The move is based on the recommendations made by the Pet Theft Taskforce which the government set up in May to examine the issue.
It found that seven in 10 thefts involved dogs, with evidence that there had been about 2,000 dog theft crimes reported to police last year.
A survey for the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association in March suggested that 2.1 million people had acquired a new pet during the Covid-19 lockdown and 1.2 million planned to get one.