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Animal Welfare : SPCA Positions > Food
Most humane housing methods

As there are numerous welfare problems associated with housing live seafood at restaurants or supermarkets, it is best if the more humane option of pre killed frozen seafood is chosen.

It is best not to house any of these animals for too long either at home or at a restaurant. Particularly with home cooks, it is best to purchase live seafood just prior to preparing them for consumption.

The animals should be handled as gently as possible so as not to cause too much stress. Different species should also not be stocked together, nor should too many animals be stored in one tank as this will cause overcrowding. Waste products should also be removed promptly. All animals should be fed if they are kept in the tanks beyond a day or two.

For Crabs

You can leave the crabs in a container and drape the crabs with wet towels. Ensure that the crabs have enough air or they will suffocate. Ensure that they are kept in a cool and airy area. You may also place them in a refrigerator, however they will not last for very long out of their environment.

Restaurants should ensure that the crabs are not kept in overcrowded conditions. If the crabs are kept for a while, they should not be starved and must be fed.

For Lobsters/Crayfish

Lobsters need cool temperatures and hence they should be placed (along with their carton) into the refrigerator with a piece of wet newspaper placed over them immediately upon returning home. Lobsters do not do well in warm weather so do not leave them exposed to warm temperatures.

Do not pick a lobster up by the claws. Always handle it gently. You should also not stress the lobsters by putting too many in a carton.

Restaurants should also ensure that lobsters are kept in a stress free environment prior to cooking. They should not be removed from tanks or the refrigeration until just before preparing them to be killed.

If they are kept in tanks, the water should be clean and the lobsters should not be overcrowded. Water quality should be monitored. The tanks should not have cloudy or dirty looking water.

The levels of ammonia should also be monitored to ensure that the lobsters are not stressed. Do not allow customers to tap on the tanks as this stresses the lobsters out.

For Prawns

Do not put the prawns in tap water as they are likely to react badly to the chlorine. Ensure that they have enough oxygen.

Restaurants should be careful not to overstock their tanks and to monitor their water quality. If these are saltwater prawns, then they should be placed in saltwater. An oxygen stone to provide oxygen should be added, and the prawns should be fed daily.

For Fish

Home cooks should ensure that the fish have enough water and are not gasping for air. There should be sufficient oxygen so that they are not suffering. If for some reason the fish is not cooked immediately, it is best to transfer it to a basin or large container with enough water.

Restaurant tanks should be monitored to ensure that the fish are kept in conditions that are as stress-free as possible.