Parliament will consider a complaint about how lobsters are slaughtered for commercial purposes the next term, the New Zealand Animal Law Association has said.
Lobsters experience significant pain and distress when refrigerated and boiled alive, according to a study presented in connection with a complaint about commercial slaughter practices.
The body of evidence was gathered by the New Zealand Animal Law Society, which has complained about commercial slaughter practices to regulators.
The association filed the complaint with the Regulatory Review Committee on June 29 and says the welfare code’s minimum standards for commercial lobster slaughter are based on outdated scientific research.
Lobsters that have been frozen and then boiled will regain consciousness and experience pain during the boiling process, and evidence shows that they also remain conscious for longer due to freezing.
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A spokesperson for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said she was aware of the association’s complaint and noted that regulations were tightened in 2018.
Under the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulation, commercially caught crab, lobster, crayfish, or freshwater crayfish had to be rendered “unresponsive”, or unconscious, before being killed.
Clear guidelines on signs of insensitivity were set out in the amendments, she said.
MPI had worked with industry to make sure people knew lobsters were sensitive and needed to be stunned and killed according to regulations, she said.
But the Animal Law Association said regulators should drop a recommendation to refrigerate lobsters at 4 degrees Celsius or lower because recent science has shown that cooling, freezing and boiling lobsters causes them pain and pain. significant distress and were therefore contrary to the Animal Welfare Act.
Instead, the association wanted commercial slaughter to be carried out by tabletop electric stunners that had been developed for use in catering, spokeswoman Rachel Stedman said.
Current recommendations also indicate that this is the preferred method.
The National Animal Welfare Committee (Nawac), which has advised regulators on best practices, must by law take scientific knowledge into account, Stedman said.
“What we found is that the science that Nawac relied on is actually obsolete.”
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Lobsters have been shown to have “a really complex nervous system,” she said.
A review of the scientific literature showed that evidence had emerged since the code was developed, demonstrating that lobsters felt pain and, in particular, that they felt pain after being frozen.
Lobsters had been inappropriately killed and transported because it was believed they felt nothing, Stedman said.
The review panel had agreed to take the complaint to Parliament, which would then decide whether the code should be changed, she said.
However, this will only happen after the general election.
Any change would impact restaurants that sold live lobsters sitting on ice or sourced from a tank, Stedman said.
Restaurant Association Managing Director Nicola Waldren said he was interested in MPI’s guidelines for safe and humane practices in kitchens, and recommended its members to follow them and keep abreast of changes. .
Rock Lobster Industry Council chief executive Mark Edwards said he had only just learned about the complaint and had not had a chance to review the scientific data it exposed.
However, the council took care responsibility seriously and encouraged the industry to comply with the code, he said.