The scope of the UK Animal Welfare bill has been broadened this week to recognize lobsters, octopus and crabs and all other decapod crustaceans and cephalopod mollusks such as sentient beings.
The move follows the findings of an independent government-commissioned review by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) that concluded that there is strong scientific evidence that decapod crustaceans and cephalopod mollusks are sensitive.
The Animal Welfare bill already recognizes all vertebrate animals as sentient beings. However, unlike other invertebrates, decapod crustaceans and cephalopods have a complex central nervous system, one of the key characteristics of sensitivity.
The government has wanted to emphasize that the announcement will not affect any existing legislation or industry practices such as fishing. There will be no direct impact on the seafood fishery or restaurant industry. Instead, it is designed to ensure that animal welfare is well considered in future decision making.
“The UK has always led the way on animal welfare and our action plan goes even further,” said Animal Welfare Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith. ‘The Animal Awareness Bill provides a fundamental guarantee that the welfare of animals is properly taken into account when developing new laws. The science is now clear that decapods and cephalopods can feel pain and therefore it is only fair that they are covered by this vital legislation, ”he clarified.
When the project becomes law, will establish a Sentiencia Animal Committee made up of experts in the field. They will be able to issue reports on how well government decisions have taken into account the welfare of sensitive animals and ministers will have to answer to Parliament.