The lobster heroes are here: Crustacean Liberation is a new advocacy group dedicated to saving one of the most overlooked and abused groups of animals: lobsters, crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans.
The organization, started by Robbie Ruderman of Miami, Florida, is just getting off the ground with lobster liberations. Its goals are to “set captured crustaceans free and to raise awareness about the obscenely cruel and barbaric treatment of these innocent, feeling beings,” says Ruderman.
The group buys lobsters and then works as a team to release them into the wild.
“We felt there was a need for an organization to advocate strictly on behalf of crustaceans, who endure the most extreme and unnecessary suffering when they are mutilated, dismembered, steamed, and boiled alive, all while fully conscious,” he explains. “The treatment of crustaceans would constitute felony convictions if it was being done to dogs or cats.”
Crustaceans have been on this earth for 150 million years, and some scientists believe their intelligence rivals that of cephalopods (octopuses, squid, etc.), Ruderman adds. “Crustaceans have very good memories. They recognize other crustaceans and remember past acquaintances. Crustaceans are also expert navigators with highly developed sensory abilities.” They’re even known to walk hand in hand (or claw in claw), with the older leading the younger.
Most importantly, they are sentient, and possess the ability to feel emotions — including pain. “We believe all animals have a right to life and a right to live free and a right to live free from suffering,” says Ruderman. “Unfortunately, our daily food choices have vast and tragic implications for animals and our health. It is well within our grasp to eat a healthy and compassionate diet and our own lives will be deeply richer for it.”
Other countries, like Italy and New Zealand, have made it illegal to boil or cut open a lobster while it’s still alive, and Ruderman believes our legislators need to take this issue more seriously.
While the Crustacean Liberation team does purchase lobsters and other animals in order to set them free, they’re not creating any demonstrable demand, Ruderman says. “Our strategy is integrated and responsive to specific and identifiable market triggers that would alert us to a potential increase in demand, as a direct result of our liberation efforts, way before it ever happens. Crustacean Liberation is purposely constructed, managed, and monitored to be able to quickly shift tactics to neutralize any potential increase in demand by diverting, diversifying, relocating, reducing, or suspending our liberation efforts, at any time, for any specific crustacean species or for all crustacean species, and at any level, from local to regional to national.”
If necessary, the organization would be prepared to shut down its crustacean efforts and switch to the liberation of other animals sold live for slaughter, including snakes, turtles, ducks, eels, and frogs, among others.
Raising awareness is key above all else, and Ruderman believes that holding these liberation efforts and sharing widely via social media will help to change the minds of consumers. “As our movement grows, with more liberations in more places, so will our optimism that our efforts will affect meaningful change for crustaceans and ultimately and steadily decrease demand.”
Overall, Ruderman wants people to know that these animals are as worthy and deserving of respect and protection as any other.
“If you’ve ever seen a lobster or crab lowered into a pot of boiling water, you are keenly aware how much these animals struggle and thrash about, scraping the sides of the pot, in a desperate but futile attempt to escape,” he says of the fate of most crustaceans. “It will take anywhere from 2-15 minutes for them to die. Unlike humans who possess a central nervous system, the nervous system of crustaceans is decentralized and segmented. As a result, their bodies do not possess the ability to go into shock when experiencing intense pain. For this reason, they will feel excruciating pain until their nervous system is completely fried. The pain they endure while being boiled alive is so severe that is almost certainly beyond our mental capacity to comprehend.”