What We Do

"The information about learning, awareness and capacity for pain and other feelings in (...) decapod crustaceans is also clear enough to justify arguments for their protection if they are used in experimentation, for food or for other purposes"

                       Donald Broom, Professor (Emeritus) of Animal Welfare, University of Cambridge (1)

Crustacean Compassion wants all decapod crustaceans - whether lobsters, crabs, crayfish or shrimp -  to be treated humanely. In order for their protection to be legally enforceable, we need them to be included in the definition of "animal" in law. Our current campaign calls for them to be legally recognised as sentient (that is, capable of feeling and experiencing sensations such as pain and pleasure)  and protected in all relevant animal welfare legislation in the UK. This includes:

  • the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill of 2021

  • the diverse Animal Welfare Acts of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

  • the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (WATOK) legislation

  • the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order (WATEO) 

  • the Animals in Scientific Procedures Act (ASPA)


We see this as a moral necessity in order to stop the appalling treatment that millions of these animals are subjected to each  year, since many people who handle them are incorrectly told that they are incapable of pain or suffering.  It is also an opportunity to show that our animal welfare values are as progressive and as scientifically informed as those of other nations, such as Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand, who already protect their welfare.

We raise public awareness of the sentience of decapod crustaceans; we work with food businesses to implement changes to their practices; and we put pressure on the Government to make the necessary changes to the law. Our case is built on both scientific evidence and ethical reasoning.

What we have achieved so far:

  • We have shown that this issue is of public concern - over 56,000 people want decapod crustaceans protected in UK animal welfare law as shown by the signatures on our public petition


  • We have shown that the experts agree - our open letter has been signed by eminent scientists, veterinary professionals, lawyers, actors, comedians and wildlife experts, including the RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association, asking the government to protect them in animal welfare law.


  • We have shown that the animal welfare movement speaks with one voice - 41 animal welfare organisations think decapod crustaceans should be protected in animal welfare law. Organisations like the RSPCA and Scotland's OneKind now campaign for the protection of decapods, and the RSPCA awarded us the 2019 Campaign Award for our work.


  • Thanks to our work, Defra have now commissioned an independent consultation on the ability of decapod crustaceans (and cephalopod molluscs like octopus) to feel pain; and on the impact of industry practices on their welfare. And the Humane Slaughter Association has recently commissioned a piece of research worth £1.93 million that includes research and development into humane methods of slaughtering crustaceans.

Image by kate

Read our open letter to Defra which has been signed by 55 leading experts and high profile supporters. 

Image by Bodie Pyndus

Check out our campaign report:

The Case for the Legal Protection of Decapod Crustaceans 

A fisherman is holding a live lobster over one of the bins that he is sorting the lobster

TAKE ACTION to sign our petition and get these vulnerable animals protected in UK animal welfare legislation.


1. Broom, D.M. (2014). Sentience and Animal Welfare (p. 122). Wallingford: CABI