Cephalopods and decapod crustaceans are capable of experiencing pain and suffering, yet they are not given any legal protection in Scotland.

We are calling on the Scottish Government to introduce legal protection for crab, lobster, octopus, squid and other species of decapod crustaceans and cephalopods.

The UK Government has recognised these animals as sentient and has amended the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill to include them. Scotland must not lag behind.

Despite the UK Government recognising these animals as sentient in a landmark decision, they have not actually introduced legislation to prevent these animals from suffering. We are urging the Scottish Government to legally recognise of these animals as sentient AND introduce legislation that protects these animals from suffering.

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Are these animals sentient?

Yes. The research project commissioned by DEFRA Review of the Evidence of sentience in Cephalopod Molluscs and Decapod Crustaceans’, concluded that decapod crustaceans and cephalopods are indeed sentient.

The assumption that these animals cannot suffer has to be discarded, once and for all.


Do they suffer at the hands of humans?

Yes, sadly these animals suffer considerably at the hands of humans. These animals are particularly exposed to suffering in the food production system.

Food production

Lobsters in tank

Both decapod crustaceans and cephalopods can experience suffering connected with capture from the wild, being kept in captivity, transport and slaughter without stunning. Lobsters can commonly be seen crammed together in barren restaurant tanks, awaiting slaughter. Subjected to noise, bright lighting, and with their claws bound, these naturally solitary animals may suffer from stress, injury, overheating and dehydration.

Boiled alive

As food processors and restaurants are not required to take account of decapod crustaceans’ welfare needs, lobsters and crabs can still legally be boiled alive. They make take up to three minutes to die.

Packaged alive

In November 2015, a Korean supermarket in South London was also found to be selling live crabs pre-packaged in clingfilm; slowly suffocating and completely immobilised. The RSPCA was powerless to take legal action as the Animal Welfare Act 2006 – which protects animals in England and Wales – also only covers vertebrates.

Octopus farming

The introduction of octopus farming in recent years has also prompted significant concern over the rearing of highly intelligent and complex animals in intensive aquaculture systems.

Media coverage highlights

Recent media coverage of our Sea their Suffering campaign include an article in The National

OneKind highlighted that the new law would now include decapod crustaceans and cephalopods - including crabs, lobsters, octopus and squid – for which OneKind have long campaigned to be included in animal welfare legislation.

S.Bell, 'Campaigners to lobby Scottish Government on animal sentience', The National, 8th April 2022


We've been campaigning for decapod crustaceans and cephalopods to be legally recognised as sentient since 2005. Our recent campaign highlights include:

  • Participating in a DEFRA-funded stakeholder workshop that investigated crustacean and cephalopod sentience and welfare concerns. The results informed legislative change by the UK Government.
  • Briefing Colin Smyth MSP to raise an amendment to extend legal protection to decapod crustaceans and cephalopods during Stage 2 of the Animal and Wildlife Bill amendments. The Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, responded that the Government was open to extending protection.
  • Responding to the Scottish Government’s Animal Health and Welfare Act 2019 consultation, recommending that cephalopods and decapod crustaceans be included in the legislation.
  • Joining 41 other organisations who collaborated to produce a manifesto for protecting and improving animal welfare following Brexit- inclusion of cephalopods and crustaceans within domestic animal welfare legislation was a recommendation.

Girl wearing sea their suffering campaign t-shirt

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