Tag Archives: seafood

The future of sustainable seafood

By Jennifer Bates
 
Driverless cars, virtual-reality theme parks, human tissue produced by 3-D printers—it seems that nearly every day there’s a new technological advancement that sets the world abuzz with excitement. But, while these innovations will no doubt improve lives, what could be more exciting than an innovation that can improve the world? Enter, shrimp created in a laboratory.
 
Yes, shrimp. You’ve likely heard of laboratories that grow beef patties from real bovine cells, but these days all eyes are on re-creating one of the tiniest living beings … from scratch. This shrimp differs from other lab-produced meats in that it contains no animal protein. How is that possible? Scientists simply analyzed shrimp at the molecular level in order to build a replica out of algae and other plant proteins. The result is a product that tastes and feels like the real thing—so much so that a major tech company has already placed an order for it to be served in its staff cafeteria.
 
And synthetic shrimp is much more than science fiction come to life—it is an absolute necessity.
 
Shrimp are fascinating social beings. They use sound or polarized light to communicate, and one shrimp species is even considered to be the loudest animal on the planet. Some live in complex colonies similar to beehives, while others mate for life. And they can live for more than six years.
 
But our dinner plates belie the tale told by these remarkable characteristics. Every year, Americans consume 1.3 billion pounds of these interesting little animals. We pull them from their watery homes, rip off their exoskeletons and boil them without a second thought.
 
And it’s not just shrimp who suffer, thanks to our gluttony. We Americans expect our shrimp to be plentiful, and we expect them to be cheap. But the prevalence of low-cost shrimp is an ecological disaster: Boats that net wild shrimp are also responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of endangered sea turtles each year in the U.S. alone, while shrimp farms create cesspools of antibiotics, fertilizers, pesticides, feces and other waste. And despite their tiny size, farmed shrimp’s carbon footprint packs a wallop, roughly 10 times more damaging than that of beef.
 
Humans suffer, too. Investigations in Thailand have revealed that the country’s $7 billion shrimp export industry and modern-day slavery often go insidiously hand-in-hand. The forced laborers—including children and victims of human trafficking—spend up to 16 hours a day with their hands in icy water as they peel and disembowel shrimp, which then make their way around the globe, including into U.S. grocery stores and restaurants. 
 
Lab-produced shrimp is free of these drawbacks. Greenhouse-gas emissions generated from creating meat in a laboratory are up to 96 percent lower than those from producing traditional meat, and there is no resulting disruption to ecosystems or food chains. No humans must toil for hours to peel these shrimp, which are naturally shell-free. And unlike the disingenuous “humanely raised” labels slapped onto meat from animals who were still abused and slaughtered, this meat truly is humane. 
 
Synthetic shrimp — what’s not to love? The future’s so close, you can literally taste it.

Consider the lobster? That’s the least we can do!!!!

By Paula Moore

It’s not normally considered newsworthy when animal shelters rescue abandoned animals. That’s their job, after all. But the Lincoln County Humane Society in Ontario, Canada, made headlines in April when it came to the aid of an animal who was found inside a cardboard box that had been left in a restaurant parking lot. The animal in question just happened to be a lobster.

Although most of us would recoil at the thought of intentionally harming a cat or dog, we seem to have a blind spot regarding the suffering of animals who are killed for our plates. Lobsters are routinely boiled alive. Live crabs have their claws ripped off and are tossed back into the ocean. If you wouldn’t do such things to a cat, you shouldn’t do them to a crustacean, either. Both can feel pain and distress, and both deserve our consideration. As Kevin Strooband, the Lincoln County Humane Society’s executive director, said regarding his agency’s decision to rescue Mickey the lobster, “All creatures deserve to be treated with respect and appropriate care.”

Lobsters and crabs may seem very different from us, but in the ways that matter the most, they’re more like us than we may care to admit. Dr. Robert Elwood, a professor of animal behavior at Queen’s University Belfast who has studied crustaceans for decades, has demonstrated that these animals can feel pain. When prawns and crabs are exposed to acetic acid or a brief electric shock, for example, they show many of the types of pain-related behavior seen in vertebrates, such as rubbing and grooming the affected area. When crabs have a claw removed—a common practice in commercial fisheries—they rub and pick at the wound.

“Denying that crabs feel pain because they don’t have the same biology is like denying they can see because they don’t have a visual cortex,” says Dr. Elwood.

Yet too many people continue to think of these animals as little more than swimming entrées—if they think of them at all.

A PETA investigation inside a crustacean slaughterhouse in Maine revealed that lobsters there are decapitated, torn apart and left to die slowly and in agony. The video footage shows workers slamming live crabs’ faces onto spikes to break off their top shells and pressing the animals’ exposed organs and flesh against stiff, spinning bristles to remove them. The crabs are then dropped into boiling water—while they’re still alive and aware.

If left alone, lobsters can live to be more than 100 years old. They recognize other individual lobsters, remember past acquaintances and have elaborate courtship rituals. Researchers who study lobsters say that their intelligence rivals that of octopuses—long considered to be the world’s smartest invertebrate. Michael Kuba, Ph.D., told Katherine Harmon Courage, author of Octopus! The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea, that lobsters are “quite amazingly smart animals.” And Dr. Elwood’s experiments have led him to change how he treats the invertebrates in his laboratory. He now uses fewer animals in his experiments and strives to keep the potential for suffering to a minimum.

For his part, Strooband said that he never once thought about cooking Mickey the lobster for dinner. “It’s legal, it’s possible to do, but it’s just not the right thing to do,” he said. I urge readers to consider his words carefully before condemning any of Mickey’s cousins to the cooking pot. It’s the least we can do.

Groundbreaking investigation reveals gruesome lobster slaughter in Maine!

By Dan Paden

If you’ve ever boiled lobsters alive in your kitchen, you’ve no doubt experienced that moment when, in the words of the late David Foster Wallace, “some uncomfortable things start to happen.” After the water heats up and you drop the lobster in the pot, the hapless animal may latch onto the rim for dear life. Once you finally get the lobster fully submerged, you’re confronted with the clanking of the lid as the lobster tries to push it off, followed by the deeply discomforting sound of the animal’s claws frantically scraping the sides of the pot. “The lobster, in other words, behaves very much as you or I would behave if we were plunged into boiling water …,” wrote Wallace.

No wonder many people opt for frozen instead. The “uncomfortable things” happen someplace else, and we don’t have to think about them as we drop the neat plastic packages of lobster meat into our shopping carts. But I urge you to think about them, at least for the next few minutes. You just might decide that the fleeting taste of a lobster’s flesh is not worth the violence that is routinely inflicted upon these animals.

Earlier this year, PETA captured video footage inside a Rockland, Maine, crustacean slaughterhouse that supplies retailers across the country. The footage shows live lobsters and crabs as they are being ripped apart and crabs being boiled alive. Workers tear off live lobsters’ claws before shoving the animals into a metal tool that punctures their shells. The lobsters’ heads are also ripped from their bodies, tossed onto a conveyor belt and dropped into bins-where their antennae continue to move long after their bodies have been mutilated.

Lobsters do not have a centralized nervous system but instead have ganglia, or masses of nervous tissue, spread throughout their bodies, so they do not die quickly even if their brains are destroyed. Studies have found that a lobster’s nervous system continues to function even after the animal is dismembered.

One worker said that the mutilated lobsters “don’t die right away. I mean, they’ll live for hours.”

PETA’s video also shows workers at this facility slam live crabs onto spikes to break off their top shells and shove the animals’ exposed organs and flesh against rapidly spinning brushes. The crabs-still alive-are then tossed onto a conveyor belt and dumped into boiling water.

These animals are not unfeeling automatons. Recent research has shown that crabs are capable of learning and remembering information, just like other animals. If left alone, lobsters can live to be more than 100 years old. They use complicated signals to establish social relationships and can recognize individuals.

Experiments on crabs and prawns conducted by Dr. Robert W. Elwood, a professor of animal behavior at Queen’s University Belfast, have demonstrated that crustaceans can feel pain. Similarly, in 2005, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that crustaceans are capable of experiencing pain and distress and recommended that steps be taken to lessen their suffering when possible.

We live in a changing world, one in which animals are afforded considerations that they might have been denied in the past. If we’re honest, we must admit that it matters little to the animals whether they are cruelly killed behind the closed doors of a commercial slaughterhouse or if we kill them ourselves, right there in our own kitchens. Lobsters and crabs can feel pain and they do not want to die. And the only way to make sure that we’re not contributing to their suffering is to stop eating them.