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UK Research Recognizes Lobsters, Crabs, and Octopuses As Sentient Beings Capable Of Emotion

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Octopuses, crabs, and lobsters will be recognized as sentient beings under UK animal welfare laws after a review concluded there is strong evidence they are capable of feelings.

The report by experts at the London School of Economics looked at 300 scientific studies to evaluate evidence of sentience, and they concluded that cephalopods (such as octopuses, squid and cuttlefish) and decapods (such as crabs, lobsters and crayfish) should be treated as sentient beings.

Vertebrates, animals with a backbone, are already classified as sentient in new animal welfare legislation currently under debate in the United Kingdom.

"The UK has always led the way on animal welfare and our Action Plan for Animal Welfare goes even further by setting out our plans to bring in some of the strongest protections in the world for pets, livestock and wild animals," Animal Welfare Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said in the announcement.

The legislation will not affect fishing practices or restaurants that sell shellfish but will protect the animals in future decision-making. Once the bill becomes law, an Animal Sentience Committee will be created and report on how well the government is accounting for sentient animals in its decisions.

"The Animal Welfare Sentience Bill provides a crucial assurance that animal well-being is rightly considered when developing new laws," Goldsmith said.

"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."