Welfare at Time of Killing

WATOK Campaign

Decapod crustaceans are recognised in law as sentient since the passage of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022, which came into force two years ago. This means that decapods like lobsters and crabs experience pain and suffering just like other sentient animals. 

Decapods have very little protection, one area they have protection is under the Welfare at Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015 (WATOK). Anyone killing any animal must have the appropriate training and must do so in a way which does not cause unnecessary suffering. Recent data released by London Boroughs to Crustacean Compassion under the Freedom of Information Act show that the enforcement of these regulations is patchy at best – with many Councils not even realising they have any enforcement duties.

Parliament has confirmed that local authorities have a duty to enforce these regulations, yet live lobsters and crabs are being sold in London markets and shops to be killed at home by untrained people. It can take 4 to 8 minutes for a lobster to die when boiled alive.

Crustacean Compassion believes that these regulations are too complex and make it difficult for both enforcement agencies and the public to understand. That is why we are launching a new campaign and calling for an end to the live sale of decapod crustaceans to the public. We wouldn’t expect people to be able to buy any other live animal within your borough to kill at home and we are asking for equal protection for decapods. 

We are also asking every London Borough to instigate a policy of not allowing live animals to be sold on council-owned land for consumption. Many councils already have an animal welfare charter to safeguard animal welfare and ban cruel practices, where this could be included, potentially saving many animals from dying a painful death.

Together let’s stop the live sales of decapods to the public.