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GIVE THEM A ‘GOOD DEATH’: Debate rages over ALIVE lobster cooking

No animal is more evolved or less evolved than another. Each animal is evolved perfectly for its specific ecological niche. We should be protecting all animals that are capable of experiencing pain.

MICHAEL DAHLSTROM: The ethics of boiling lobsters and crabs while they’re conscious is being fiercely debated after the national body representing UK vets called on the practice to be outlawed. Crustaceans show signs of distress and pain according to the British Veterinary Association (BVA) in a revised animal slaughter policy released in August, and that’s a position supported locally by the RSPCA. Cooking the animals without stunning is banned in a number of countries including New Zealand and Switzerland, however, in Australia, the legislation varies in each state or territory…

Across Australia, the RSPCA advocate for stunning to ensure immediate “loss of sensibility” before death and believe crustacea should be “captured, handled, transported, stored and killed humanely”… For lobsters, “current best-practice” involves chilling them for 20 to 60 minutes until they are “stunned or insensible” before they are killed via boiling or receive a spike to the back of the head… In years gone by, researchers dismissed the idea higher animals could feel pain, but now that thinking has changed and their sentience is becoming widely accepted… Despite a growing list of Australian industry bodies adopting practices to minimise crustacea stress, not all researchers are convinced that lobsters feel pain.

While he welcomes consumers thinking about animal welfare, Professor Caleb Gardner, a fisheries scientist at UTAS, says evidence points to these crustacea reacting to the sensation as a reflex only. “There’s not a lot of right options for crustaceans unfortunately, and one of the reasons is they don’t have a simple clear brain,” Prof Gardner said. “All the guidelines for killing poultry or killing livestock humanely generally involves doing something to the brain, so you’ve got one target. “You don’t have that option in a lobster where there’s 12 little brains if you like down its body”.

Advocating for the humane treatment of lobsters and other decapods most vocally is UK animal welfare organisation Crustacean Compassion, which does not have an equivalent in Australia. The group’s co-founder, Maisie Tomlinson, spoke to Yahoo News Australia from her London home, saying research has shown that it can take a brown edible crab up to three minutes to die when boiled in a pot, and death could be even slower for lobsters as they are larger. “Now, clearly, that is absolutely unacceptable for any animal,” she said.

“We would not accept that in a vertebrate animal like rabbits, or a rat, or a mouse, in fact under EU law, the requirement is that animals should lose consciousness within one second. “So for them to remain conscious for three minutes… is just completely unacceptable”… Ms Tomlinson said she hopes the BVA’s statement on sentience in crustacea will be the first step in giving them legal protection both in the UK and across the globe. “No animal is more evolved or less evolved than another,” she said. “Each animal is evolved perfectly for its specific ecological niche. “We should be protecting all animals that are capable of experiencing pain”. SOURCE…

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