(CNN) — Octopuses, crabs and lobsters are capable of experiencing pain or suffering, according to a study commissioned by the UK government, which has added these creatures to a list of sentient beings that must be protected by new welfare laws. animal.

The report, prepared by experts from the London School of Economics, analyzed 300 scientific studies to evaluate the ability to feel, and concluded that cephalopods (such as octopus, squid and cuttlefish) and decapods (such as crabs, lobsters and prawns) must be treated like sentient beings.

Vertebrates, animals with backbones, are already classified in this category in the new animal welfare legislation that is being debated in the UK.

A common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) moves across the seabed on August 2, 2017, in Marseille, France.

“The Animal Welfare Sensitivity Bill provides a crucial assurance that animal welfare is properly considered when developing new laws. Science now clearly knows that decapods and cephalopods can feel pain and therefore , it is only fair that they are covered by this vital piece of legislation, “Animal Welfare Minister Zac Goldsmith said in a statement.

The bill, which is not yet passed legislation, will create a committee on animal sentiment, which will issue reports on the extent to which government decisions have taken into account the welfare of the animals they feel. It is part of a larger government action plan for animal welfare.

The report says that lobsters and crabs should not be boiled alive and includes best practices for the transport, stunning and slaughter of decapods and cephalopods.

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Learn more about cephalopods and decapods


A lobster in its nest seen in Kioni port in Ithaca, Greece on August 14, 2019.

The report used eight different ways to measure the ability to feel, such as learning ability, possession of pain receptors, connections between pain receptors and certain brain regions, response to anesthetics or pain relievers, and behaviors, such as the balance between threat and opportunity for reward and protection against injury or threats.

He found “very strong” evidence for feeling in octopods and “strong” in most crabs. For other animals in these two groups, such as squid, cuttlefish, and lobsters, the evidence was substantial but not strong.

However, the report notes that these different degrees of evidence reflect disparities in the amount of attention that different animals have received from scientists.

“Scientific attention has gravitated to some (animals) rather than others for reasons of practical convenience (eg, which animals can be well kept in laboratories) and geographic (eg, what species are available where a laboratory is located). Due to this situation, we felt that it would be inappropriate to limit protection to specific orders of cephalopods or decapods, “the report says.

The recent Netflix documentary “My Octopus Teacher” showcased the unique abilities of octopuses. The brain structure of octopuses is very different from that of humans, but it has some of the same functions as mammalian brains, such as the ability to learn, including the ability to solve problems, and possibly the ability to dream.

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