Crabs, lobsters, octopuses and squid should be recognised in law as having feelings, the BVA has said.
The association’s new policy on animal sentience states that decapods and cephalopods should be regarded in legislation as having consciousness and the capacity to experience feelings such as pleasure and pain.
Currently, only vertebrates have statutory protection under the Animal Welfare Act and so, as invertebrates, decapod and cephalopod species are excluded. (Octopuses are, however, covered by separate legislation on the welfare of animals used in scientific processes.)
The issue of animal sentience is pressing because, until now, animals have officially been recognised as sentient through Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.
This places on the government a duty to have regard for animal welfare when formulating and implementing policy.
However, as these provisions are found in a treaty, they will not be automatically adopted by UK...