Sit back, relax, get a good grip on the armrests on your easy chair and brace yourself — because the bulls--t is about to hit the fan.
It seems Professor Bob Elwood and Barry Magee from Queen’s School of Biological Sciences have come to the scientific conclusion that shellfish like lobster, crab and shrimp “likely” feel pain. And thus, they are warning fishing and food industries that they need to give a second thought to how they treat these animals.
Naturally, reading this information caused my eyes to roll to such a degree that I would have given the googly-eyed Cookie Monster a run for his blue, furry money by the time I was done.
But like a good soldier, I kept reading just to see how and why these conclusions came about.
Apparently, the two researchers came to their conclusions by scooping up some common shore crabs and seeing what happens when they give them electric shocks. Apparently, after getting a jolt, the crab would move away from a dark space to avoid another shock.
According to Elwood, “Crabs value dark hideaways beneath rocks where they can shelter from predators. Exploiting this preference, our study tested whether the crabs experienced pain by seeing if they could learn to give up a valued dark hiding place in order to avoid a mild electric shock.”
Apparently, after two rounds of electric shocks, the crabs that had been shocked moved to another location while those that hadn’t, stayed put.
Yeah, I know, right?
I only wish I were kidding.
Anyway, the scientist then issues a dire warning: “In contrast to mammals, crustaceans are given little or no protection as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain. Our research suggests otherwise. More consideration of the treatment of these animals is needed as a potentially very large problem is being ignored.”
Finally, after spending about 18 paragraphs of a media release telling you why these animals feel pain, he used the very last paragraph to explain that it is “impossible to demonstrate absolutely that an animal experiences pain.”
So let’s recap. A scientist says all shellfish feel pain, based on electric shock research done with one type of shellfish. That researcher is quick to issue an unsolicited animal rights warning to the fishery and food industries, which seems rather un-scientist-like. And then he quantifies the matter by saying there’s no way of knowing if the animals feel pain.
Logical people would have to scoff even just a little bit at it all, but animal rights types are not logical people. And worse, they are master media manipulators and keen as they come on getting a message out.
So if this story gets legs, you can expect to hear some really ridiculous and stupid things in the media about all the cruel barbarians in the lobster, shrimp and crab fisheries bludgeoning and boiling the poor, helpless, screaming (seriously!) shellfish while cackling like maniacal super-villains with ominous orchestra music playing in the background.
Think that’s farfetched? Ask sealers.
They’ve been up against that kind of hyperbolic foolishness for years.
This above all else is why I am pro-sealing: aside from knowing the people that participate in the seal fishery and knowing that the animals are taken professionally, properly and that the industry is regulated, I also know that the seal fishery is just a stepping stone for those who would seek to attack it and gain money and notoriety from doing so.
Oh sure, the seal fishery is not a pretty industry and a great many of those who know nothing about how it is conducted would just prefer that it go away.
But if it does go away, do you think that will be the end of it?
If we give that up, what will be next on the animal rights hit list?
Maybe this latest “shellfish pain” research provides us with our answer.
And if that’s the case, we’ve got about $500 million worth of reasons to be concerned about it.
Oh, and one more question: who will speak for those poor, defenceless shore crabs who were subjected to barbaric electric shocks at the hands of these bloodthirsty researchers?!
Shore crabs are people too!!
Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine, www.thenavigatormagazine.com