Switzerland has introduced a new law that will make boiling lobsters alive illegal, coming into effect on March 2018.

The Swiss government has banned the popular culinary practice due to new studies that suggest lobsters are sentient with advanced nervous systems, thus making the cooking method a barbaric act of animal cruelty Lobster being prepared in Switzerland will need to be ‘knocked out’ before they are killed, or killed instantly.

The new laws will also give more protection Lobsters 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 “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, behavior 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?”

They are really giving up a very valuable resource that means life to them, essentially, in order to escape from the noxious stimulus. Scientists say lobsters have advanced nervous systems.

Elwood’s studies suggest crustaceans will make serious life and death decisions when exposed to pain. In experiments, hermit crabs were quick to abandon a shell if it was exposed to a large electric shock.

The scientist says he is pleased governments are considering this data and making changes accordingly.

The new edict comes in the wake of a recent Italian law that decreed lobsters can’t be kept on ice in restaurant kitchens. It isn’t clear how many lobsters are boiled in Switzerland per year, but it’s probably quite a small amount compared with the billions upon billions of crustaceans that are used each year in the human food chain.

Elwood hopes to discourage the practice of not only boiling but also dismembering while the animal is alive. “I would question the use of that in a modern society,” he says.

The new law doesn’t mean taking lobster off the menu. There are methods of killing them which are considered more humane — and which Swiss chefs might now adopt.

Neon Nettle / Crickey Conservation Society 2018.

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