Crimes Against Crustaceas: Nicholas Seafood Still In Hot Water As “Severity” Appeal Fails For Cruelty To Lobster

Nicholas Seafood are still in hot water as their “severity”appeal against the sentence imposed by the Local Court following a conviction for animal cruelty towards a lobster failed in the District Court of New South Wales.

Nicholas Seafood, owned by parent company Seafood Buyfood Pty Ltd, were convicted of animal cruelty on 14 February 2017 in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court and were ordered to pay a $1,500 fine. The conviction came after a member of the public videoed a fish monger on 25 January 2017 at the Sydney Fish Markets butchering a lobster without any attempt to stun the animal unconscious to mitigate suffering, before separating the tail from the body – an inhumane method which causes significant pain and does not kill the lobster.

The footage shows a lobster struggling vigorously as the monger attempts to butcher it, remaining alive after its tail is cut off, before having its head put through a band saw over 20 seconds later. The video evidence tendered in court can be downloaded here. RSPCA NSW investigated the incident, issuing the company a fine but they instead opted to take the matter to court where they were subsequently found guilty.

In the District Court on Monday 17 July 2017 her Honor Judge Sweeney DCJ dismissed the appeal, citing that the Department of Agriculture guidelines regarding the humane killing of crustaceans are not new, adding that lobsters have a complex nervous system and the ability to feel pain, and that this was not an offence of low seriousness despite being argued as such by the appellant.

Crustaceans were added to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in 1997 after it was scientifically proven that they feel pain and stress.

“This case sets an interesting precedent for the welfare of crustaceans,” comments RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector David OShannessy.

“The media from this initial conviction even made it to the Washington Post, and we’ve since seen groups in the UK lobby for similar legislation to protect crustaceans, so there seems to be a broader movement towards better welfare outcomes for sentient creatures traditionally left out of the discourse around compassion.”

For more information on how to humanely kill crustaceans, please visit:

All charges brought under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act


For more information, or an interview with a RSPCA NSW spokesperson, please contact Stefania Kubowicz
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