Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Invertebrate sentience and sustainable seafood

Octopuses, crabs and lobsters are probably sentient, yet their welfare needs are poorly protected in the food system. Upholding animal welfare in the seafood industry presents challenges, and more research is needed to address humane capture, housing and slaughter.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs.


  1. Elwood, R. W. Anim. Welf. 21, 23–27 (2012).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Birch, J., Burn, C., Schnell, A. K., Browning, H. & Crump, A. Review of the Evidence of Sentience in Cephalopod Molluscs and Decapod Crustaceans (Defra, 2021).

  3. Crump, A., Browning, H., Schnell, A. K., Burn, C. & Birch, J. Anim. Sentience 7, 1 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Iglesias, J. et al. Aquaculture 266, 1–15 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Ibáñez, C. M. & Keyl, F. Rev. Fish Bio. Fish. 20, 123–136 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Budelmann, B. U. S. Afr. J. Mar. Sci. 20, 101–108 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Jacquet, J., Franks, B., Godfrey-Smith, P. & Sanchez-Suarez, W. Issues Sci. Technol. 35, 37–44 (2019).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Aguado Giménez, F. & García García, B. Aquac. Int. 10, 361–377 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Moltschaniwskyj, N. A. et al. Rev. Fish Biol. Fish. 17, 455–476 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Fiorito, G. et al. Lab Anim. 49, 1–90 (2015).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Andrews, P. L. et al. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 447, 46–64 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Boenish, R. et al. Front. Ecol. Environ. 20, 102–110 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Jacklin, M. & Combes, J. The Good Practice Guide to Handling and Storing Live Crustacea (Seafish, 2005).

  14. Patterson, L., Dick, J. T. & Elwood, R. W. Mar. Biol. 152, 265–272 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Duermit, E., Kingsley-Smith, P. R. & Wilber, D. H. N. Am. J. Fish. Manag. 35, 895–905 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. McCambridge, C., Dick, J. T. & Elwood, R. W. J. Shellfish Res. 35, 1037–1044 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Welsh, J. E., King, P. A. & MacCarthy, E. J. Invertebr. Pathol. 112, 49–56 (2013).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Ridgway, I. D., Taylor, A. C., Atkinson, R. J. A., Chang, E. S. & Neil, D. M. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 339, 135–147 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Barrento, S., Marques, A., Vaz-Pires, P. & Nunes, M. L. J. Therm. Biol. 36, 128–137 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Woll, A. K., Larssen, W. E. & Fossen, I. J. Shellfish Res. 29, 479–487 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Taylor, J., Vinatea, L., Ozorio, R., Schuweitzer, R. & Andreatta, E. R. Aquaculture 233, 173–179 (2004).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Diarte-Plata, G. et al. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 140, 172–178 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Zacarias, S., Carboni, S., Davie, A. & Little, D. C. Aquaculture 503, 460–466 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Fregin, T. & Bickmeyer, U. PLoS ONE 11, e0162894 (2016).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  25. Conte, F. et al. Animals 11, 1089 (2021).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references


This research is part of a project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant no. 851145. The review of evidence of sentience also received funding from the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), project code AW0517.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jonathan Birch.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Peer review

Peer review information

Nature Food thanks the anonymous reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Crump, A., Browning, H., Schnell, A.K. et al. Invertebrate sentience and sustainable seafood. Nat Food 3, 884–886 (2022).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing