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Law urged to ban lobsters, crabs being boiled alive in Britain

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-02-01 09:11

LONDON - British government minister Michael Gove was Wednesday urged to introduce a law that will ban lobsters and crabs being boiled alive.

A number of celebrities, academics, animal experts and campaigners in Britain are backing the campaign group Crustacean Compassion which has written to Gove, the Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. They want Gove to categorise crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs as sentient organisms in a new animal welfare bill.

Giving them such a status in an upcoming bill would give crustaceans protection. The campaign is also being supported by leading figures at the British Veterinary Association and the animal charity RSPCA. The campaign group says it has won backing from scientists, lawyers, comedians, actors and leading wildlife experts.

Maisie Tomlinson, spokeswoman from the campaign group Crustacean Compassion, said in a media interview: "It's really not acceptable to be boiling animals alive, to be cutting them up alive. All the evidence at the moment points to the notion that they're capable of experiencing pain."

More than 23,000 people have signed a petition to support the law change.

In their letter to Gove, the campaign group says: "In light of the extreme practices they are subjected to, we call on the government to include decapod crustaceans under the definition of 'animal' in the Animal Welfare Bill and in the Animal Welfare Act 2006."

The letter adds: "In the UK, decapods fall outside of the legal definition of 'animal' in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and so there is currently no legal requirement for food processors, supermarkets or restaurants to consider their welfare during storage, handling or killing."

The British government is currently conducting a public consultation on a new Animal Welfare Bill.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: "We are committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare. We will make the United Kingdom a world leader in the care and protection of animals as we leave the EU. We are currently consulting on the draft Bill and will consider responses when bringing the Bill forwards."

Opponents of lobsters and crabs being boiled alive say there are now more humane killing methods. There are also ways of stunning the animals into unconsciousness that have little impact on food preparation.

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