The Slaughter of Lobsters
More than 20 million lobsters are trapped and brought to shore in Maine each year. Millions more are trapped off other New England coastal states.
Lobsters are the one animal most commonly brought through the food distribution chain alive to the final consumer who gets full free responsibility for their final slaughter. Cruelties abound in this process. The lobsters are kept, unfed, often for lengthy periods in horribly cramped quarters. And then, typically, boiled or steamed to death.
While not feeling that any method of lobster slaughter could allow us to condone the set of cruelties intrinsic to the lobster harvest process, we felt that we could, perhaps, at least identify methods of slaughter substantially less horrific than the standard. We have again and again been successively made optimistic and then had our hopes dashed as we have pursued this aim. There is no method we can locate which provides a reliably quick or painless death. We find it even difficult to grade the different techniques into any sort of hierarchy of relative humaneness. One recommendation we have been able to locate has directly and explicitly contradicted the previous. Again and again and again.
we present, here, summaries of a variety of materials we have accumulated in the course of our research. If you have any additional information regarding the methods we cite or other methods, please let us know. Even anecdotal evidence would be much appreciated particularly regarding the slow heat method.
After reviewing 13 methods of slaughter, we include a bibliography with brief synopsis of each author's findings. There follows a capsule remark of two about each of the thirteen methods. Lastly, we offer a few summary thoughts.
Please note: This paper is only, now, at the stage of an initial draft. We have, however, been receiving messages from people requesting our most up-to-date understanding of the matters we treat here. We, therefore, release this material to you in its current stage with the hope that you may be able to share with us some useful suggestions.
THE FOLLOWING ARE THE METHODS WE WILL REVIEW
- Plunging into boiling tap-water, salted water or sea-water (no differences found between these three methods).
- Gradual heating in tap-water, salted water or sea-water (no difference found between these three methods).
- Immersion in cold tap-water before boiling.
- Immersion in saturated salt solution before boiling.
- Killing with chloroform before boiling.
- Placing in plastic bag in freezer at -20 degrees Centigrade.
- Exposure to electric shock before boiling.
- Incision in the back between chest and tail.
- Cutting through spinal cord via abdomen.
- Placing in water at a constant temperature between 26 and 32 C
- Remove oxygen from pot of water and then holding lobsters under until they die.
- Placing in unsalted tap water.
- Stroking lobster's tail.