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Shellfish Trade by Joe Solomon (Co-ordinator of the Shellfish Network), Vegan Views 68 (Spring 1995)

The shellfish trade would like to increase public awareness of this food. The Shellfish Network wants to alert the public to the cruelties these creatures must go through in order to become food. Those that survive the stresses of trapping, densely packed transport, and sometimes unsatisfactory storage, are boiled or cut up while still alive.

Since our formation in 1994, we have had some success in highlighting this issue. Our leaflet "Boiling Them Alive Isn't Really Cruel, Is It?" has been widely circulated, also our petition which will call on the Government to ban the trade and to press for this within the EU. Signatures on returned petition forms so far number 1,600, but we expect a big build-up on that from the many forms yet to be returned.

Campaigning by Animal Rights groups and concerned individuals is happening in Scotland, West Wales, the Midlands, Cambridge, West Norfolk, Bristol, Berkshire and Surrey. If the area you live in has not been mentioned and you would like to help, we'd love to hear from you!

The petition was launched in October with a Press Release. That led to two interviews on Radio 5, plus a follow up one in February. There was a mass of interviews on local radio - it seems a news release sent to the BBC Radio newsdesk in London gets faxed out nationwide!

Interviewers often asked about more humane alternatives to live boiling or cutting up. It is true that methods of prior stunning by, for example, freezing or piercing nerve centres have been put forward by animal welfare organisations. But all of these are fraught with difficulties. Experts disagree on whether freezing is really humane. Chefs are divided about it on culinary grounds. The piercing techniques require a degree of precision that has discouraged general take-up. So our own humane alternative is simply "Don't do it".

We are sometimes told this is an unrealistic policy, but "Do it humanely" doesn't seem to score on realism either! Campaigns against veal-crates and live exports once seemed unrealistic. As the old song says: "We shall overcome..." If there's enough of the "we".

Follow-up: The contact details for the Shellfish Network in the original article are out of date so have been omitted. Here are the new contact details...
The Shellfish Network, Springside, Forest Road, East Horsley, Leatherhead, Surrey KT24 5AZ. Tel/Fax: 01483 282 995. Web: arc.enviroweb.org/shellfish Email: shellfish_uk@hotmail.com

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Cross-reference: Fish & Seafood