Tearing Live Crabs Apart Violates Florida Law, Says PETA

Crustacean Experts Support Rulemaking Petition to State Wildlife Authorities to Prohibit Live Dismemberment

For Immediate Release:
April 14, 2022

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Marathon, Fla. – Because the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) requires that the claws be torn off live stone crabs in the crabbing industry—which causes agonizing pain and would otherwise be illegal under the state’s cruelty-to-animals law—PETA, the largest animal rights organization in the world, is challenging the requirement with a formal rulemaking petition to ban this conduct. PETA’s attorneys are making the case that the FWC allows Florida’s $30 million annual stone crab claw industry to operate in an illegal manner.

The move comes as PETA releases new footage revealing workers on a vessel that supplied Keys Fisheries—the largest seller of stone crab claws in Florida—tearing the limbs off live crabs and tossing the mutilated animals back into the ocean to suffer and die. The company supplies Whole Foods’ and Winn-Dixie’s Florida stores as well as Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant in Miami Beach. Broadcast-quality video footage is available for download here, and photographs are available here.

Crustacean experts who saw PETA’s footage and support the group’s petition include Dr. Robert Elwood, who says that death by claw removal could take “hours or several days,” which “cannot be regarded” as “humane.”

“While crabs cannot vocalize or make facial expressions like other animals, the other physiological signs of pain described are similar and indicate suffering in similar ways,” notes Dr. Lynne Sneddon from the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg. She adds that after their claws are ripped off, the crabs are unable to eat, causing them “unnecessary suffering”: “The crabs will likely starve after having their claws removed, comparable to the way you or I would feel if we could not eat.”

The FWC has admittedly “found a very high mortality rate associated with declawing,” discovering that 40.8% of crabs died when one claw was torn off and that 62.9% of crabs died when both claws were ripped off.

PETA has also filed a complaint seeking a criminal investigation after filming workers who slammed a shark against their boat and appeared to carve out chunks of the animal’s flesh, ripped the mantles—which house the hearts and other organs—off live octopuses, and tore live lobsters’ tails off before tossing the animals, still alive, back into the water—all actions that experts concur cause pain.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat or abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind