Lobsters, octopus and crabs will be recognized as sentient beings in the UK after new research suggested they have a central nervous system and can feel pain.
The UK government announced Friday that all decapod crustaceans and cephalopod mollusks will be added to the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill after a study from the London School of Economics and Political Science found evidence that the sea creatures are sentient, or can feel.
Decapod crustaceans include shrimp, lobsters, crayfish and hermit crabs. Cephalopod mollusks include squid, octopus and cuttlefish.
“The UK has always led the way on animal welfare and our Action Plan for Animal Welfare goes even further by setting out our plans to bring in some of the strongest protections in the world for pets, livestock and wild animals,” UK Animal Welfare Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said in the announcement.
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The legislation will not affect fishing practices or impact restaurants who sell shellfish, but will protect the animals in future decision making. Once the bill becomes law, an Animal Sentience Committee will be created and issue reports on how well the government is accounting for sentient animals it its decisions.
“The Animal Welfare Sentience Bill provides a crucial assurance that animal wellbeing is rightly considered when developing new laws,” Goldsmith said.
“The science is now clear that decapods and cephalopods can feel pain and therefore it is only right they are covered by this vital piece of legislation.”
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: [email protected]