UK declares Squids and Octopuses as sentient beings

Bringing joy to animal welfare enthusiasts over the globe, the UK government has declared that animals like lobsters, crabs, and octopuses will be considered sentient according to the upcoming UK animal welfare bill.


With the announcement on Friday, the UK will soon join the list of nations like Switzerland and New Zealand that has already made it illegal to boil crustaceans alive. The government has said that Decapods and Cephalopods will be considered to be sentient according to the bill. Animals like crabs, lobsters, shrimp, prawns, and crayfish make up Decopods while Cephalopods are octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish.


Before the announcement the animal welfare bill assumes every vertebrated organism to be sentient. But then the problem was that scientists have known for while that the decapods and cephalopods have a complex central nervous system, giving them the ability to feel different kinds of sensations.


The new announcement is derived from the review reports of the London School of Economics and Political Science that were commissioned by the government to look into this matter as many lawmakers were interested in the matter.


The research team at the School poured through over 300 different studies searching for evidence that these organisms are in fact sentient. During their analysis, the team looked for eight specific neurological and behavioral criteria that indicate sentience. These include learning ability, pain sensation, anesthetics response, and consideration for threat vs opportunity circumstances.


The review has concluded that there is strong evidence to support the statement that animals such as Cephalopods and Decapods are sentient. The team suggests that the organisms have the capacity to have feelings, such as feelings of pain, pleasure, hunger, thirst, warmth, joy, comfort, and excitement.


Apart from confirming the notion of sentience the team’s review also has put forward some other recommendations regarding animal welfare practices:

  • Banning the declawing of crabs
  • Banning the sale of live crabs and lobsters to “untrained, non-expert handlers”
  • Banning the slaughter methods such as boiling alive and live dismemberment
  • when a viable alternative exists and when electrical stunning is not done first.


The report also points out that, there is no slaughter method available today that is humane and be commercially viable at the same time. It recommends the need for further research to come with more humane practices.


While these are the recommendations, the UK bill will not be considering anything else than declaring the organisms as sentient for now. The government has also made it clear that the bill wouldn’t affect any existing legislation or industrial practices like fishing.


As the government makes the bill into law, scientists will rejoice as science has been protecting these creatures for their specialty for a while. The bill will provide protection outside the realm of science into the mainstream.




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