Before preparing the rest of our dinner I did some quick research online to see if I had to do anything else to the pre-cooked, pre-cleaned crab in my refridge. This led me to articles on how to cook live crab at home, as well as articles on whether crabs/shellfish/lobsters feel pain when they're steamed or boiled alive.
Crustaceans — crabs, prawns, lobsters and other creatures — are generally not protected by animal-welfare laws, despite huge numbers of them being caught or farmed for human consumption. The exclusion has been based on the belief that these animals cannot experience pain — generally regarded as an ‘unpleasant feeling’ — and instead only have nociception, a reflex response to move away from a noxious stimulus.
This is a useful belief, as crustaceans are subjected to what Elwood calls “extreme procedures” — lobsters in factories having their legs removed while they are still alive, crabs being kept alive but tightly bound for days in fish markets, and live prawns being impaled on sticks for eating. Such procedures, he notes, “would never be allowed with vertebrates”.
“We’re behaving in an illogical way at the moment” by protecting mice but not crustaceans, he notes.
Yeah. Having a thing's limbs ripped off, its scull pierced and its skin scalded while it's still quite alive (and when it's been proven, repeatably, and without question, that the thing does indeed feel pain) would never be allowed on vertebrates.