←Go back to RSPCA

RSPCA Australia knowledgebase

RSPCA Australia Knowledgebase

Search:     Advanced search

Are crustaceans protected by animal welfare legislation?

Article ID: 555
Last updated: 04 Aug, 2014
Revision: 4
Views: 4968

Crustaceans are a group of invertebrate animals, which most notably include crabs, crayfish, lobsters, and prawns. Whether they are protected under State and Territory animal welfare legislation depends upon the definition of ‘animal’ in each jurisdiction. In the majority of jurisdictions, animals are defined as ‘vertebrate animals’. However, in the ACT, New South Wales, Victoria, and the Northern Territory, the definition of animal includes crustaceans in particular circumstances. In South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia, crustaceans are not included within the definition of animal.

In regards to commercial and retail use of crustaceans, the provisions of the relevant animal welfare legislation protect crustaceans against acts of cruelty. Therefore, in the ACT, NSW, the NT and Victoria, crustaceans should not be treated in a way, which unreasonably, unnecessarily or unsuitably inflicts pain upon the animal. In the ACT, NSW, and Victoria, there is an obligation for retailers to provide crustaceans with appropriate and adequate food, water, and shelter. Additionally, crustaceans must be transported in a way so as not to subject them to unnecessary injury, pain or suffering.

In NSW, retailers are restricted from selling, or offering to sell, animals, which are so severely injured or diseased, or in such a condition that it is cruel to keep them alive. In particular, where an animal is kept for the purposes of sale the retailer must keep clean and hygienic premises, and protect the animals from interference from people, disease, distress and injury. Restaurants and caterers must ensure that rapid temperature changes and water quality changes are avoided, and cannot keep incompatible species together.

RSPCA Australia considers that the available scientific evidence indicates that crustaceans may be capable of experiencing pain and suffering. Therefore, RSPCA Australia supports the inclusion of crustaceans under relevant State and Territory animal welfare legislation, and the development of Codes of Practices or Standards and Guidelines relating to their care. 

 

State

Yes/No

Relevant Act/s and Conditions

NSW

Yes

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979

Restricted to ‘a crustacean but only when at a building or place (such as a restaurant) where food is prepared or offered for consumption by retail sale in the building or place’

ACT

Yes

Animal Welfare Act 1992 (ACT)

Restricted to ‘a live crustacean intended for human consumption’

Vic

Yes

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (Vic)

Defined as ‘live adult decapod crustacean; that is a lobster, or a crab, or a crayfish’

Qld

No

N/A

SA

No

N/A

NT

Yes

Animal Welfare Act 2000 (NT)

Restricted to ‘a live crustacean if it is in or on the premises where food is prepared for retail sale, or offered by retail sale, for human consumption’

WA

No

N/A

Tas

No

N/A


This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person's unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
Also read
document What can be done to improve the welfare of fish and shellfish in restaurant aquaria?
document What is the most humane way to kill crustaceans for human consumption?

Prev   Next
Fish and aquatic invertebrates     Are fish protected by animal welfare legislation?