DECAPOD CRUSTACEANS AND THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT

 

The Animal Welfare Act is designed to protect animals under human control, on the understanding that sentient creatures can feel both pain and pleasure and we have a moral duty not to cause suffering in our use of them. The Act makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal, both in their keeping and at the time of slaughter. It means that people or organisations who neglect or abuse 'protected' animals can be prosecuted. Farmed animals, fish and reptiles are all protected under the Act. However, invertebrates such as  crabs and lobsters are not.

At the time that the Act came into force, there was evidence that crustaceans were capable of feeling pain, but the file was slim. A clause was inserted that would allow for their inclusion at a later date if the science was convincing.  Now there is stronger and better evidence available there is no excuse.

The Defra consultation Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill offers a long overdue opportunity to consider which animals should be protected under both the new Bill and the Animals Welfare Act 2006.

WHAT IS THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT?

 

The Animal Welfare Act of 2006  (England and Wales) enforces a duty of care to ‘protected animals’ (animals under human control). Those responsible must take steps to PREVENT unecessary suffering or they are liable to prosecution.

 

In particular, the Act enforces the Five Welfare Needs. Protected animals should:

 

1. have a suitable place to live

2. have suitable food and water

3. be able to behave normally

4. be with other animals or alone –whatever is appropriate for the species

5. to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

 

Including decapod crustaceans under the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 would mean that they are legally entitled to basic protections when being handled, stored and slaughtered. Companies can be inspected and have the law enforced if they do not comply.

 

Without this protection under the law, the RSPCA and the police are powerless to prevent cruelty towards them.

Farmed salmon receive basic protections under the Animal Welfare Act.

Credit: Mark Benger, Flickr, SRR

Farmed decapod crustaceans like this crab receive no welfare protection under the Act

Credit: Laura Atkins, Flickr, ARR

SURELY THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT IS ONLY FOR MAMMALS?

 

Not so. Fish and reptiles are included, for instance. The only requirement is that the animals are capable of experiencing pain.

 

In fact, due to the compelling arguments presented on behalf of crustaceans, the Act explicitly states that its protections can be extended to including invertebrates - if it can be proved that they are capable of experiencing pain. Crustacean Compassion believes that evidence is now present. All that is required is for the public to put pressure on the government to comply.

Crustacean Compasssion believes that the scientific evidence is now so strong that there is no longer any excuse to delay the inclusion of decapod crustaceans under the Act.

 

Tell the UK government it's time to update the Act.

EXTRACT FROM THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT 2006

 

SECTION ONE

(3) The appropriate national authority may by regulations for all or any of the

purposes of this Act—

(a) extend the definition of “animal” so as to include invertebrates of any

description;

(4) The power under subsection (3) may only be exercised if the

appropriate national authority is satisfied, on the basis of scientific evidence,

that animals of the kind concerned are capable of experiencing pain or

suffering.

EXTRACT FROM THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT 2006

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