The mystic claw

2 minute read Published:

My arrival back from Halifax with a live lobster for dinner re-ignited the ‘is it cruel to dispatch a lobster in boiling water’ debate in our household. I’ve always had a bit of a lobster fetish (I once had a fabulous Katherine Hammnet lobster t-shirt, now faded beyond recognition), so the mere presence of a live lobster in the house was a big thrill for me and especially for the kids.

In the back of my mind was a recent story concerning new Norwegian research into the welfare implications of everything from cooking live lobsters, keeping bees and the use of worms on hooks as bait, which concluded that invertebrates do not suffer pain, discomfort or stress. This is the ‘no brain, no pain’ argument. On the other hand organisations such as PeTA’s ‘Lobster Liberation Front’ dispute this and have dismissed the Norwegian findings as pandering to the (admittedly very powerful) Norwegian fishing lobby, maintaining that boiling a lobster alive is tantamount to torture. Trevor Corson, author of The Secret Life of Lobsters, has a good summary of the arguments.

Whatever you believe, there’s no doubting the ethical dubiousness of a bizarre lobster game found in a video arcade in Japan (via Boing Boing and RocketBoom) and this: “an old sport turned into a new high profit vending game”.

And finally, whilst we’re on the subject, this seems like an appropriate point to link to an entry I wrote (in 1999, I think) on shellfish for h2g2, a Douglas Adam-inspired wikipedia-alike now owned by the BBC.