If you’re a Pink Floyd fan, you know the song “Comfortably Numb.” The song has just become the anthem for lobsters in Switzerland. Why? Because the Swiss government has just passed a new animal protection rule banning the culinary art of tossing a live lobster into a boiling pot of water to cook it.
Switzerland is famous for its peaceful world stance, and the Swiss say crustacean cruelty must end.
This week, a comprehensive animal rights policy was passed by the Swiss government. The new laws will go into effect in March 2018. Regarding lobsters, here is how the edict reads: “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. Crustaceans must now be stunned before killing them.”
Animal activists have been successful in urging Swiss officials to pass the law, which focuses on all kinds of animal cruelty, like illegal puppy farms and banning bark collars that send an electric shock to a dog’s neck when barking. Cage sizes appropriate to the animal size are also now regulated by the government.
Additionally, the law provides new, more humane measures for animal euthanasia in cases when animals are injured and sick. The regulation also concerns public events where animals are present; it makes the event organizers responsible for animal welfare at those events.
The law also bans petting zoos at public events from having any animal that might be stressed by all of the attention and small hands. Specifically, the law names guinea pigs for their nervous nature and strong instinct for flight in the face of stress.
The government regulations also make it mandatory to appoint an animal welfare officer with specialized training to every laboratory that utilizes any furry critters.
The Swiss culinary industry has pushed back hard with widespread criticism of the new law. Swiss chefs are saying the government is assuming that lobsters must know what is going on, therefore the animals should not unnecessarily suffer.
The law calls for all aquatic species to be kept in their natural environment, and chefs must now stun lobsters before they are boiled.
The group known as PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, agrees with Switzerland and says that people worldwide should liberate lobsters from their plates. The organizations slogan says “Animals are not ours to eat.”
PETA says that businesses that sell and cook seafood are misleading the public. PETA says that lobsters do indeed feel pain and suffer greatly from being boiled alive.
Scientific research does indicate the the lobster possesses a sophisticated nervous system. Marine biologists at the renowned Marine Biological Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts say that lobsters have a full set of senses just like humans, and that their neurobiology research leads them to believe that lobsters actually do feel pain.
In fact, some crustacean research says that lobsters might feel more pain than humans would in a similar situation. Why? Humans have two parts to their nervous systems; the autonomic nervous system is what causes a human to go into shock when severe injury occurs. Lobsters don’t have an autonomic system, so scientists say the lobster probably does feel everything when it is being cut in half alive or boiled in scalding hot water. The pain likely continues until the boiling is thorough enough to completely destroy the animal’s nervous system.
PETA says that if you’ve ever boiled a lobster, you know what they’re talking about. The lobster thrashes around violently and even scrapes the sides of the pot trying to get out. This is why PETA—and Switzerland—say that the boiling method of cooking lobsters is unnecessary and extreme torture, thus the new laws.
PETA has long lobbied for the lobster laws, saying that people would never treat a dog or cat this way, so why inflict such agony on a poor little lobster.
The Swiss are joined by other European countries like Italy. The Italians passed a similar measure in June 2017, saying that lobsters could not be kept iced in restaurants because “it causes them unjustifiable suffering before they head for death by fine dining.”