The UK Government has officially passed the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill. The means animals will once again be legally recognised as sentient & for the first time ever decapod crustaceans and cephalopods will become legally recognised as sentient!

Lobster at market

This is a huge win not only for animals, but in particular decapod crustaceans and cephalopods who were previously not regarded as sentient and thus were not given any protection under animal welfare legislation. The legislation will also now been extended to include decapod crustaceans (crabs, lobsters and crayfish) and cephalopods (octopus, squid, cuttlefish and nautilus).

We have been campaigning for the inclusion of these animals under animal welfare legislation in England & Wales and Scotland alongside Crustacean Compassion for years and we’re delighted that the UK Government has finally officially recognised them as sentient. We also must congratulate Crustacean Compassion on this achievement for their commitment, focus and hard work in working towards the humane treatment of decapod crustaceans.

What does this mean in practice?

Now that decapod crustaceans and cephalopods are legally recognised as sentient under UK law, their welfare must be considered when new laws are being developed. Being recognised as sentience by law also sets a foundation upon which legislation improving the lives of these animals can be built.

What is the situation in Scotland?

In 2020, the Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment at the time, Mairi Gougeon, confirmed the Scottish Government was open to extending legal protection to decapod crustaceans and cephalopods and advised that the Government would monitor the research project commission by DEFRA and its conclusion.

That research project is the report , ‘Review of the Evidence of sentience in Cephalopod Molluscs and Decapod Crustaceans’, which convinced the UK Government today to legally recognise decapod crustaceans and cephalopods as sentient.

Now that the research has been published, and the sentience of these animals has been recognised by the UK Government, our Sea their Suffering campaign is only further strengthened. We will use this to apply pressure to the Scottish Government to follow suit and protect these animals in law.