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New Law Makes Boiling Lobsters Alive Illegal in Switzerland

New study reveals lobsters are sentient with advanced nervous systems.

By: Daniel Newton  |@NeonNettle
 on 13th January 2018 @ 3.18pm
lobster being prepared in switzerland will need to be  knocked out  before they are killed © press
Lobster being prepared in Switzerland will need to be 'knocked out' before they are killed,

Switzerland has introduced a new law that will make boiling lobsters alive illegal, coming into effect on March 2018.

The Swiss government has banned the popular culinary practice due to new studies that suggest lobsters are sentient with advanced nervous systems, thus making the cooking method a barbaric act of animal cruelty

Lobster being prepared in Switzerland will need to be 'knocked out' before they are killed, or killed instantly, the new laws will also give more protection Lobsters in Transit.

"Live crustaceans, including the lobster, may no longer be transported on ice or in ice water. Aquatic species must always be kept in their natural environment," says the new law "Crustaceans must now be stunned before they are killed,"

new studies that suggest lobsters are sentient with advanced nervous systems © press
New studies that suggest lobsters are sentient with advanced nervous systems,

CNN reports: The new edict comes in the wake of a recent Italian law that decreed lobsters can't be kept on ice in restaurant kitchens.

Switzerland's decision is applauded by Professor Robert Elwood, emeritus professor in ecology, evolution, behavior and environmental economics at Queens University, Belfast.

Elwood has conducted a series of experiments that suggest crustaceans are sentient and that boiling them alive is inhumane.
"With the data we know, it is highly likely that the animal will be in pain," he says. "We give protection to birds and mammals, currently we give very little protection to decapod crustaceans -- lobsters and crabs -- and the question comes, why is there this difference?"

Scientists say lobsters have advanced nervous systems.

Elwood's studies suggest crustaceans will make serious life and death decisions when exposed to pain. In experiments, hermit crabs were quick to abandon a shell if it was exposed to a large electric shock.

"They are really giving up a very valuable resource that means life to them, essentially, in order to escape from the noxious stimulus," explains Elwood.

elwood s studies suggest crustaceans will make serious life and death decisions when exposed to pain © press
Elwood's studies suggest crustaceans will make serious life and death decisions when exposed to pain

The scientist says he is pleased governments are considering this data and making changes accordingly.

"It's a positive move, the Swiss are looking at a potential problem and trying to deal with it," he says.

But for Elwood, this is only the first step in addressing this issue.

"I don't know how many lobsters are boiled in Switzerland per year, but it's probably quite a small amount compared with the billions upon billions of crustaceans that are used each year in the human food chain," he says.

t.The new law doesn't mean taking lobster off the menu. There are methods of killing them which are considered more humane -- and which Swiss chefs might now adopt.

"With an experienced chef, using a large, sharp knife, thrust into the right place into the head of the lobster and then cutting down along the midway -- that should kill the lobster very quickly and effectively -- and is probably the most humane way in a small operation," suggests Elwood.
Elwood also pinpoints a device called the Crustastun, which destroys the lobster's nervous system.

Elwood hopes to discourage the practice of not only boiling but also dismembering while the animal is alive. "I would question the use of that in a modern society," he says.

Time will tell whether other countries will follow Switzerland's example.

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