We have a brief update on our campaign. Sit tight for some good news!
First, a recap on the politics. You will remember that the aim of our campaign was to get decapod crustaceans included under the definition of ‘animal’ in the Animal Welfare Act (England and Wales), so that they would be included in its protections. We were offered an unexpected opportunity when the government announced a new Animal Welfare Bill at the end of last year. A public consultation was opened. Along with other animal welfare organisations, we submitted an argument for the inclusion of decapod crustaceans, supported by an open letter signed by 56 scientific experts and public figures. Two weeks later on Valentine’s Day, we submitted your petition to Defra with a giant Valentine’s Day card and chocolate box of petition signatures, ensuring that the message of public support was heard loud and clear!
At present, the future of this new Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill 2017 is uncertain. It is likely that the Bill will now be split into two parts, Sentencing and Sentience. Any opportunity for the inclusion of decapods in the Animal Welfare Act will arise with a new Sentience Bill. However, there is no indication as yet as to when that Bill will be drafted. As soon as there is, we will be ready to push once more for the protection of decapod crustaceans. More information on the Government’s activities can be found here:
Now onto the good news! As a direct result of our campaign and your petition, Defra have now officially confirmed to us that they are consulting on whether some decapod crustaceans (specifically crabs, lobsters and crayfish) should be included in the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015 ( WATOK regulations).
This is an extremely important development, as if they were included it would mean the slaughter of these animals is governed by animal welfare law for the first time. Anyone killing a crab, lobster or crayfish would have to do so in a way that minimised suffering, and they would have to be trained and licenced to do so. Even gaining a consultation on this is absolutely ground-breaking and it wouldn’t have happened without your voice!
Help keep the pressure up. If you are on Twitter, tweet @michaelgove @DefraGovUK (on Facebook @MichaelGove2017 and @DefraGovUK) with the message: “I’m glad you’re considering the need to #ShowLobstersSomeLove. Please include ALL decapods in WATOK regulation!” You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A consultation is not a guarantee of inclusion in the law, and so we will be writing to you again shortly to ask for your help in making sure the consultation becomes law. We also need your help in making sure ALL decapods, including prawns, are included in the legislation. Watch this space and be ready to take action!
Thank you all for your continued support. Do please continue to make the case for decapods with friends, family and colleagues!
Maisie, Jules, Ann, Jo, Claire and Gemma