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Lobster and Crab Cruelty in Maine?

GRAPHIC: An undercover video shot at a lobster and crab processing plant in Rockland shows workers ripping heads and claws off live lobsters and crabs in apparent violation of state laws against animal cruelty. Courtesy PETA.
GRAPHIC: An undercover video shot at a lobster and crab processing plant in Rockland shows workers ripping heads and claws off live lobsters and crabs in apparent violation of state laws against animal cruelty. Courtesy PETA.
September 18, 2013

ROCKLAND, Maine - An undercover video shot at a lobster and crab processing plant in Rockland shows workers ripping the heads and claws off live lobsters and crabs in apparent violation of state laws against cruelty to animals.

A whistleblower tipped off the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in August that questionable methods were being used at Linda Bean's Perfect Maine company. Dan Paden, a PETA spokesman, said a member of the group then got a job there and used a hidden video camera.

"The video shows lobsters and crabs being ripped apart while they are alive and fully conscious, and able to feel pain," he said.

The company did not return calls for comment. According to PETA, some other Maine seafood processors use humane killing methods. It plans to ask law enforcement officials to investigate.

A study commissioned by the European Union concluded that 10-legged crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs are able to feel pain.

"That scientific panel classified lobsters and crabs in the same category of animals as dogs and cats - that is, as animals who can feel pain, and should be protected from unnecessary pain," he said.

The video represents the first-ever behind-the-scenes look at procedures in these types of processing facilities about which, countrywide, not much is publicly known, Paden said. PETA tried unsuccessfully to talk with the company about using one of two more humane commercial killing techniques, he said.

"Maine law prohibits intentionally mutilating any live creature, including crustaceans," he said. "It criminalizes killing an animal by a means that does not cause instantaneous death."

PETA advocates a vegan lifestyle and says the best way to keep crabs and lobster from suffering is to stop eating them. In this case, Paden said, the organization is calling for at least a switch to a slaughter method that would rapidly stun and kill the creatures.

The video is online at cbsnews.com.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - ME