Legal action threat over live lobster boiling

26 September 2023 by
Legal action threat over live lobster boiling

The government has been threatened with legal action amid claims it is failing to enforce animal welfare regulations by stopping the live boiling of lobsters.

The Animal Law Foundation, a legal research charity established to ensure systems aimed at protecting animals function as they should, has written to the government calling on it to enforce the regulations in relation to decapod crustaceans.

It wants the government to end the practice of lobsters being boiled alive and provide guidelines for "legally compliant higher welfare killing methods".

A report by the London School of Economics concluding that decapod crustaceans, including crabs, lobsters and crayfish, should be regarded as sentient was accepted by the government in November 2021, leading to the extension of welfare protections.

When this was announced by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) it said there would not be any impact on "existing legislation or industry practices", including in the restaurant industry. Instead, it said, the classification would ensure animal welfare was well considered in future decision making.

However, the Animal Law Foundation has claimed that the acceptance of decapod crustaceans as sentient should see protections extended to them.

It said: "These sensitive animals regularly experience prolonged and painful deaths in the UK, such as being boiled alive while completely conscious, which can take many agonising minutes to die.

"At the Animal Law Foundation, we believe that these prolonged and painful deaths are contrary to the law and that safer and faster killing methods exist. We have outlined this in our legal letter to the government, calling on them to immediately enforce the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing Regulations 2015."

The Animal Law Foundation has also launched a petition calling for the change.

The Caterer has contacted Defra for comment.

Photo: Anastasia Tveretinova/Shutterstock

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