Restaurants and fishmongers could be banned from boiling crab alive and sending live lobsters through the post.

Shellfish campaigners gathered outside the House of Lords today as amendments to the Animal Welfare Bill were put forward to recognise crabs and lobsters can feel pain.

The Animal Sentience Bill was introduced by government in May as part of animal welfare reforms in the UK.

The bill only applies to Vertebrate animals, but it means they will be recognised as being able to feel pain and emotions for the first time in UK law.

The legislation will also ensure that animal sentience is taken into account when developing policy across Government through the creation of an Animal Sentience Committee which will be made up of animal experts from within the field.

It replaces EU legislation which legally recognised that animals can feel pain and experience emotions.

However Crustacean Compassion argues that the bill does not go far enough in its current form.

Surrey Comet: rustacean Compassion argues that the bill does not go far enough in its current form.rustacean Compassion argues that the bill does not go far enough in its current form.

Scientific evidence shows that decapod crustaceans, a group which includes crabs and lobsters, can feel pain and suffer and should be included in animal welfare legislation.

The move is backed by the RSPCA, the British Veterinary Association. Naturalist Chris Packham and actor Bill Bailey have also backed the campaign.

The amendment also requests that cephalopods, which includes octopus and squid, are also protected by the Bill.

Whilst other countries such as Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand include decapod crustaceans in their animal welfare laws, decapods are not currently included in the definition of ‘animal’ in most of the UK’s animal welfare legislation.

Crustacean Compassion points out that this means that they can be routinely treated as if they were no more sentient than a vegetable.

Decapod crustaceans are frequently boiled and/or dismembered alive, and research shows that a brown crab may take up to three minutes to die in boiling water.

The group argue that electrical stunning of the animals before slaughter would be the most humane way of dispatching the animals.

Maisie Tomlinson of Crustacean Compassion, said: “We hope the House of Lords votes to accept this amendment at the earliest opportunity.

“Decapod crustaceans are Britain’s forgotten animals, widely recognised as sentient but subject to brutal treatment in the food industry.

“The government made a manifesto commitment to promote high standards of animal welfare, and prides itself on being led by the science.

“It cannot decide which animals are sentient based on political convenience, and if the independent review of decapod and cephalopod sentience is so critical to the Lords’ decision-making, we urge them not to delay its release any further”.

Last year, a fishmonger came under fire for using Amazon to deliver live lobsters through post.