End the Seafood Industry’s Mutilation of Live Crustaceans

Target: Carl Wilson, Department of Marine Resources Maine

Goal: Regulate the seafood industry to stop the live dismemberment of sea creatures

Seafood processing plants in Maine have recently come under scrutiny for their barbaric treatment of crabs and lobsters during processing. The creatures are kept alive while their shells, tails, claws, and legs are ripped off violently. Crabs are placed onto rotating metal spikes to remove their innards before being thrown into boiling water to be killed. Lobsters, after being dismembered, are left in a bin to die from suffocation or blood loss.

Unfortunately, the processing of crustaceans is unregulated and these methods are considered to be industry standards. As crabs and lobsters are not considered animals by law, their slaughter sits in a legal grey area where anything goes. This classification stems from a lack of knowledge as to whether or not crustaceans are ‘sentient creatures’ and able to feel pain.

Recent studies by animal behaviorists show that crabs, lobsters, crayfish, and other crustaceans do, in fact, feel pain. Zoologists confirm that crustaceans have highly sophisticated nervous systems that allow them to sense physical discomfort.

There are readily available items on the market designed to kill the creatures before they are de-shelled and dismembered. Stun or shock technology would kill them instantly and save them the agony of a slow, messy death.

Regulation of the seafood industry’s kill procedures would ensure humane treatment of the crustaceans before their death. Classifying them as animals would ensure that they are protected by cruelty laws, therefore forcing processing plants to kill the animals before they are dismembered and cleaned. Your signature will ask the Department of Marine Resources in Maine to end the mutilation of live crustaceans by implementing kill-first rules.


Dear Carl Wilson, Department of Marine Resources Maine

Common seafood industry practices in Maine include live dismemberment, de-shelling, and disembowelment procedures. Crabs will be violently mutilated before being thrown into boiling water to die. Lobsters have their limbs and tails torn from their bodies and are left in bins to suffocate or bleed out.

These poor industry standards stem from a lack of regulation of the slaughter and processing of crustaceans. Their lack of official classification as animals allows processors to disregard cruelty laws and focus solely on profit.

Recent studies by behavior researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast suggest that crustaceans such as lobsters, crabs, and prawns are able to feel pain and physical discomfort. These findings are corroborated by zoologists who have found that these creatures possess sophisticated nervous systems despite their small size.

As the largest producer of lobster in the US, Maine should be setting a humane standard for other states. The dismemberment and butchering of live animals is cruel and socially irresponsible. I ask that you implement kill-first regulations on any lobster, crab, or other crustacean before processing.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Serge Ouachee via  Creative Commons

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One Comment

  1. The Maine Department of Marine Resources sent me this message when I approached them about above matter:
    “Dear Ms. Beck,

    This is in response to your December 3rd email to Carl Wilson of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

    Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns. As we have previously stated, experts in the field of biology, regulation, and law have concluded that Maine’s lobster processors are fully compliant with Maine law, including its animal welfare statutes, found under Title 7: Agriculture and Animals.

    Maine lobster processing facilities undergo rigorous inspections to ensure the quality and safety of the product, and that all state and federal laws are followed.

    The Maine lobster industry has been recognized with the prestigious, international Marine Stewardship Council’s certification. MSC certification recognizes the Maine lobster industry’s longstanding practices of good stewardship from the harvest through delivery to consumer.”

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