The United Kingdom proposes classifying octopuses, crabs and lobsters as emotional animals and protecting them by law

Octopuses, crabs, lobsters and other cephalopods and crustaceans were recognized as sentient beings in the UK after Informe de la London School of Economics (LSE). This may lead to changes in the treatment and slaughter of these animals in the country. For example, boiling live lobsters may be prohibited.

The British government is now working to reform animal welfare laws. The bill, which has not yet been approved, lists cephalopods such as octopus or squid and decapods such as lobsters or crabs in the group of animals capable of feeling pain.

Octopuses and other cephalopods have been protected by science for years, but have not received any protection outside of science yet.

Jonathan BurchLead author of the report

The proposed legislation was expanded after an independent review by the LSE, which analyzed more than 300 scientific studies and found “strong scientific evidence” that marine creatures can experience pain and distress.

Snow crab legs.

Getty Images / istockphoto

Principal investigator and associate professor at LSE’s Center for Philosophy of the Natural and Social Sciences, Dr. Jonathan Birch, says the modification will help remove the “great contradiction.”

One of the ways the UK can lead in animal welfare is to protect these invertebrates that are often completely overlooked by humans.

Jonathan BurchLead author of the report

“Octopuses and other cephalopods have been protected by science for years, but have not received any protection outside of science so far. One way the UK can lead animal welfare is to protect animals,” said Jonathan Birch, Principal Investigator and Associate Professor at the Center for Philosophy at the London School of Economics. These are invertebrates that have often been completely overlooked by humans.

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For his part, UK Animal Welfare Minister Zach Goldsmith believes the new bill “provides crucial assurance that animal welfare is properly taken into account when developing new laws”.

However, this bill would not cause drastic changes to restaurants and fishing companies, although the report makes it clear that it is strongly against practices such as removing claws from crabs before returning them to water or boiling them in water.

Boiled lobsters.

Boiled lobsters.


Birch asserts that “in the event that an animal is accepted as a conscious being, it is necessary to apply the kind of principles accepted by other conscious beings.” He also considers that “humane slaughter requires training.”

The report also warned of the cruelty of raising octopuses in factory farms.

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Elena Lara, director of fish research at the CIWF and author of the report, explains that the Academy Award-winning documentary “What the Octopus Taught Me” gave the world a moving insight into the lives of these unique, lonely and inherently vulnerable wild animals. They were dismayed to discover that there were plans to confine these wonderful, curious and sensitive creatures to factory farms. Their lives just wouldn’t be worth living.”

The common octopus (Octopus vulgaris).

The common octopus (Octopus vulgaris).

Getty Images / istockphoto

Do not boil or hit these animals

The report asks restaurants and businesses not to boil live lobsters without first startling them, not to sell decapods to handlers without having ideas about how to handle them and not to remove the claws from the crabs. However, it does not indicate a method that could be commercially viable for killing cephalopods such as octopuses.

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As for octopuses, the report asks that they not be beaten, their brains chopped off or that they not suffocate in a mesh bag.

This bill will be passed to the British Parliament, the House of Lords and finally the House of Commons, after which it will be finally approved.

Terry Alexander

"Award-winning music trailblazer. Gamer. Lifelong alcohol enthusiast. Thinker. Passionate analyst."

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