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Hands Off My Lobster!

Dealers might have to add “lobster handling” training time when familiarizing customers with their new boat operation if what’s happening in the U.K. comes across the pond, as it may only be a matter of time before there’s a push to ban boiling live lobsters because they’d be declared sentient beings.

This time it’s not PETA, although I can’t imagine why they haven’t jumped on it, yet. Nevertheless, a ban on boiling lobsters alive came closer to reality after the Parliament reportedly recognized crabs, octopus and lobsters as sentient beings.

An amendment to the Animal Welfare Bill currently going through Parliament would make it illegal to cause needless harm and suffering to invertebrate animals. It came after a report to ministers from the London School of Economics confirmed there is strong scientific evidence of sentience in decapod crustaceans, such as crab and lobster, and cephalopod mollusks, octopus and squid.

The London Daily Mail reports there’s been much debate over whether lobsters and crabs have feelings similar to vertebrates (animals with a backbone) because they have different nervous systems. But if those serving in Parliament are anything like the group serving in our Congress that would surely disagree over who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb, it could happen here!

Specifically, the amendment in Parliament adds cephalopod mollusks and decapod crustaceans to the definition of “animal” for the purposes of the law. It would make it a criminal offence for any person who is responsible for a kept animal — clams, crabs, lobsters, squid all included — to cause unnecessary suffering or to fail to provide for the animal’s welfare needs.

I can imagine it now. The judge asking my lawyer: “What exactly did your client do?”

“He was caught boiling a freshly caught Florida lobster in his boat’s galley,” my lawyer responds. “And while it was boiling, he enjoyed some fresh cherrystone clams. Who knew the latter had feelings? We’re asking for probation, your Honor.”

The proponents of the amendment, claim the science is now clear that crustaceans and mollusks can feel pain and, therefore, it is only right they are covered by this vital piece of legislation. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wife, Carrie, is a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, an organization like PETA, and is vocal in pushing the amendment.

I’m not making any of this up. It brings back memories of how PETA once campaigned, albeit failed, to convince America to rename all fish “sea kittens,” contending no one would ever want to hook a sea kitten so we’d all give up fishing. Obviously, PETA didn’t have a scintilla of knowledge about fishermen.

For the moment, the proposed amendment has been tabled in Parliament. But if this idea should come to America, as I suspect it will, we’ll probably see picket signs with “Ban the Boil!” For sure we’d have to kiss off the lobster tank at our favorite seafood restaurants, and not look for a fresh clam appetizer and more.

Just not likely to happen, you say? Well, as I write this blog, I may still be under the influence of too much holiday tryptophan. But, for accuracy, it is currently illegal to boil a lobster Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand.

I’m just sayin’. 


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