SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Crustaceans (Aquatic Crustaceans Farmed and Used for Food)

SPCA advocates that wild crustaceans caught for food must be treated humanely at all times.

Increasingly, science is demonstrating crustacean sentience; these animals can experience both positive and negative emotions, including pain and distress. This places a duty on humans to ensure that our treatment of crustaceans is as humane as possible.

SPCA supports crustacean farming systems that use humane on-farm slaughter avoiding subjecting live animals to negative welfare impacts during transport.

SPCA advocates that long-duration transport of crustaceans for food should be restricted to meat or carcasses only. SPCA advocates that crustaceans destined to be slaughtered for their meat must be humanely killed at the earliest opportunity after they are harvested from a farm.

If live crustaceans are transported, they must not be chilled before, during, or after the journey. The duration of the journey should be as short as possible and multiple journeys should not be permitted. The journey time should start when the first animal is first prepared for transport, including banding and loading time into any packing device, and end when the last animal is unloaded and removed from any packing devices. Care must be taken during the loading and unloading to prevent distress or harm to the animals. Banding of crustaceans’ claws is discouraged; instead, animals should be segregated during transport to prevent injuries from each other. Sick or injured crustaceans must not be transported and should instead be euthanised at the earliest opportunity.

Vehicles or containers used to transport crustaceans should be equipped with the means to pump water (either fresh or salt water as appropriate to the species) around individually contained crustaceans to minimise discomfort caused by changing environmental conditions.

SPCA advocates that crustaceans only be killed after they have been humanely stunned.

Electrical stunning devices or anaesthetics (such as AQUI-S), can be used to humanely stun and kill crustaceans. When used correctly, electrical stunning can humanely kill crustaceans at high enough voltage/concentration, or can humanely first stun crustaceans at lower voltage/concentration. If the animal has only been stunned by using an electrical stunning device or anaesthetic, a mechanical method of killing that destroys the crustaceans’ chain of ganglia (their central nervous system), such as splitting needs to follow immediately.

SPCA opposes the use of inhumane methods to stun or kill crustaceans.

Spiking and splitting alone, and high pressure killing of conscious crustaceans does not lead to immediate death and these methods are likely to cause distress. Crustaceans must never be gutted, frozen or subjected to any other form of processing whilst still conscious. It is not humane to boil crustaceans alive. In addition, chilling in air or on ice, boiling, gassing with carbon dioxide, or “drowning” in fresh water are not considered humane methods of stunning or killing crustaceans.

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