Switzerland bans boiling lobsters alive

(CNN) — Lobsters are a delicious delicacy loved by coastal dwellers across the world — but is boiling them alive inhumane?

In a new law, the Swiss government has banned the common culinary practice of throwing the crustaceans into boiling water while they are still conscious.

The move is a response to studies that suggest lobsters are sentient with advanced nervous systems that may feel pain.

From March 2018, lobsters being prepared in Switzerland will need to be knocked out before they’re put to death, or killed instantly. They’ll also get other protections while in transit.

“Live crustaceans, including the lobster, may no longer be transported on ice or in ice water. Aquatic species must always be kept in their natural environment,” says the new law, according to Swiss Info. “Crustaceans must now be stunned before they are killed.”

The new edict comes in the wake of a recent Italian law that decreed lobsters can’t be kept on ice in restaurant kitchens.

Switzerland’s decision is applauded by Professor Robert Elwood, emeritus professor in ecology, evolution, behaviour and environmental economics at Queens University, Belfast.

Elwood has conducted a series of experiments that suggest crustaceans are sentient and that boiling them alive is inhumane.

“With the data we know, it is highly likely that the animal will be in pain,” he says. “We give protection to birds and mammals, currently we give very little protection to decapod crustaceans — lobsters and crabs — and the question comes, why is there this difference?”

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