Australian fishmonger gets animal cruelty fine over lobster killing

Published on
March 14, 2017

An Australian seafood fishmonger was recently convicted of animal cruelty over the way it killed lobsters.

Nicholas Seafood Traders in Sydney is the first company in Australia to be convicted of animal cruelty charges involving lobster.

Investigators from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) observed Nicholas Seafood employees at the Sydney Fish Market killing lobsters with a band saw without first stunning them. They also separated lobsters’ tails from their bodies while they are still alive, causing the lobsters “immense pain,” according to The Guardian.

Nicholas Seafoods pleaded guilty to violating the New South Wales Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in Sydney’s Downing Centre court, and paid an AUD 1,500 (USD 1,131, EUR 1,059) fine.

Crustaceans were added to the act in 1997, when scientists showed that they have the capacity to feel pain, according to the article. The animal cruelty provision applies only to the killing of crustaceans where food is prepared or where lobsters are sold.

During the trial, Culum Brown, an associate professor, said that the way the lobsters were killed is a “very poor” method.

“These animals are covered under NSW [New South Wales] animal welfare legislation because of their proven capacity to feel pain,” he said.

In fact, guidelines from NSW Department of Primary Industries recommend that lobsters, crabs and Balmain bugs be immersed in a salt-water ice slurry for a minimum of 20 minutes before they are killed. In addition, lobsters should be cut longitudinally, which destroys nerve centers relatively quickly and limits pain, the guidelines state.

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