Lobsters, crabs, and octopuses can feel pain and should not be cooked alive, says new report

Octopuses, crabs, and lobsters should not be cooked alive, a new report has said. Credit: PA

Lobsters, crabs, and octopuses have feelings and should therefore not be cooked alive, a new scientific report has said.

The London School of Economics' (LSE) report looked at 300 scientific studies to judge the sentience - the ability to feel things and experience pain - of the creatures.

Researchers found that lobsters, crabs and octopuses should be given higher priority by the government when it comes to animal welfare. The experts also recommended that, following their findings, the creatures shouldn't be boiled alive without being stunned beforehand.

It also recommended lobsters and crabs shouldn't be sold alive to non-expert handlers.

Zac Goldsmith said the science is 'now clear' that octopuses, crabs, and lobsters are sentient, and can feel pain. Credit: AP

The study prompted the government to add the creatures to a list of those protected by a forthcoming bill. Lobsters, crabs, octopuses, crayfish, squid and cuttlefish will be recognised as sentient beings under the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, which is designed to ensure future laws have high animal welfare standards.

The bill, which is being debated and not yet law, will bring about the creation of an Animal Sentience Committee, which will publish reports on how well government decisions have taken account of the welfare of sentient animals.

The report, commissioned by the government, found that cephalopods (octopuses, squid, cuttlefish) and decapods crustaceans (lobsters, crabs, crayfish) are sentient.

Decapods - which include lobsters, crabs, and crayfish - are sentient, LSE scientists have concluded. Credit: Parks Australia

Eight different methods were used by LSE scientists to measure sentience. These included:

  • Learning ability

  • Possession of pain receptors

  • Connections between pain receptors and certain brain regions

  • Response to anaesthetics or analgesics

  • Behaviours, including balancing threat against opportunity for reward and protection against injury or threat

The conclusions on sentience follow the release of Oscar-winning Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher, which showed the unique sentience of octopuses.

Lobsters shouldn't be boiled alive, the report recommends. Credit: AP

The creature's brain has some of the same functions as mammal brains, such as learning abilities, including being able to solve problems. It is also thought octopuses have the ability to dream.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said in response to the LSE report: "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".