No more cruel live lobster boilings
Catching up to well-established science on these intelligent animals, the United Kingdom has now officially recognised octopuses, squid, lobsters, and crabs as sentient beings.
“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,” UK Animal Welfare Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said in a statement.
The update to the Animal Welfare Sentience Bill comes after a review of over 300 scientific studies by the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Cephalopods (including squid and octopuses) and decapods (such as crabs and lobsters) are protected under animal welfare legislation in other European countries like Norway, Sweden, and Austria.
“Sentience is the capacity to have feelings, such as feelings of pain, pleasure, hunger, thirst, warmth, joy, comfort, and excitement,”
The researchers explain in the report.
Eight measures of sentience were assessed by researchers, including learning ability, the presence of pain receptors and their connection to the brain, response to anesthetics, and behaviors that demonstrated protectiveness of an injury.
“Crustaceans and cephalopods undoubtedly experience the world in extremely different ways to ourselves. What matters, though, is whether that experience entails the conscious experience of pleasure and pain,” the report concludes.
“We believe that the evidence is sufficient to show that these animals do experience pleasure and pain.”
The intelligence of cephalopods has been clearly demonstrated in the past. For example, cuttlefish can pass cognitive tests originally intended for human children.
Octopuses are also incredibly intelligent, having been proven to recognise individual humans, solve puzzles, and they are notable escape artists too!
They can also feel emotional pain and can become bored and frustrated, just like us. They may even be able to dream.
Crabs have the ability to navigate mazes and tell the difference between a fake and a real seagull.
The report recommends taking “proportionate steps to regulate practices that are a source of reasonable and widespread animal welfare concerns”.
This includes banning the declawing of decapods and slaughtering them humanely – which means no more cruel live lobster boilings.
“The amendment will also help remove a major inconsistency: octopuses and other cephalopods have been protected in science for years, but have not received any protection outside science until now,” says cognitive science philosopher Jonathan Birch.
The full report on cephalopod and decapod sentience can be found here.