Octopuses, crabs and lobsters do feel pain, UK government says

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Posted at 7:39 AM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 09:39:24-05

The British government is overhauling its animal welfare rules, including a plan that would formally recognize some animals' ability to feel emotions.

Lobsters, octopuses, and crabs are among the animals that the United Kingdom proposes to define as sentient beings, paving the way for changes in how these animals are treated in the nation.

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This photo released Thursday, June 7, 2018, by the New England Aquarium shows a rare orange lobster at the aquarium in Boston.

Last month, the British government added cephalopods (such as squids and octopuses) and decapods (such as lobsters, crabs, and shrimp) to the list of species included in a law that would formally recognize some animals' ability to experience sensations like pain. The bill would establish a committee to guarantee that the United Kingdom considers animals' feelings when developing public policy.

This comes after a report from the London School of Economics revealed that these animals may feel pain or distress.

The investigation looked at whether animals have pain receptors, if they can learn, and how they react to pain-relieving medications.

Crab fisherman Frank McFarland, left, holds up a rare blue-colored red king crab he caught in his commercial crabbing pots as Frank Kavairlook Jr., right, looks on in Nome, Alaska, July 4, 2014.

Researchers are interested in a variety of animal emotions, including joy, pleasure, and comfort. However, animal welfare laws place a special emphasis on pain and suffering.

According to the government's news release, the revisions to the bill will have no immediate impact on restaurants or commercial fishing operations, but they may help influence future British animal welfare policies.