Does this hurt prawns? Science indicates it does hurt – and shockingly, it isn’t necessary
In the UK, prawns have been recognised as sentient and their capacity to experience feelings and sensations has been acknowledged by law. This decision was based on a recent report commissioned by the UK Government which called for all cephalopod molluscs (such as octopus and squid) and decapod crustaceans (such as crabs, lobsters & shrimps) “be regarded as sentient.”
A decade ago, scientists found that prawns who had their eyes cut off became disoriented, flicked their tails (an escape reflex) and rubbed the traumatised area — all behaviours associated with pain.
And this suffering prawns are forced to endure is unnecessary. Research has found that, given the right environment, female prawns will breed without having their eye cut off. Even the Global Seafood Alliance has published research stating ‘eyestalk ablation’ is not necessary – and also leads to prawn offspring being more vulnerable to disease.
One of Latin America’s largest group of prawn farms, SeaJoy, has already phased out this gruesome procedure, and we must call on Australian prawn farms to do the same. Like all animals who have the ability to think and feel – and therefore suffer – prawns are in need of protection from cruelty across the globe.