Crimes against crustaceans: Nicholas Seafood convicted of CRUELTY to lobster

Nicholas Seafood are in hot water after being convicted of an Act of Animal Cruelty and sentenced to a $1,500 fine at Sydney Downing Centre on Tuesday 14 February 2017.


The seafood company trades at Sydney Fish Markets and was videoed on 25 January 2016 by a member of the public, butchering lobsters without any attempt to stun the animals unconscious to mitigate suffering, before separating the tail from the body – which causes immense pain and does not kill the lobster.


The lobster is seen struggling vigorously as the monger attempts to butcher it. It remains alive after its tail is cut off, before being put through a ban saw about 20 seconds later.

The video can be downloaded here.

The expert veterinary witness on the case has been studying fish cognition and behaviour for 20 years, and is a recognised world expert in fish intelligence and welfare, and stated that the method of butchering from a welfare perspective is “very poor indeed.”


Crustaceans were added to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in 1997 after it was medically proven they feel pain. Consequently, they should be rendered unconscious prior to butchering and there is a specific technique to the butchering process that limits the potential for pain and suffering, specifically destroying the cerebral and ventral nerve ganglions as quickly as possible, initially by longitudinal section and then targeted removal of the ganglions.


The method of cutting off the tail from the body is sometimes used in response to the demand for lobster sashimi, but is brutal and causes agonising pain to the animal.


RSPCA attended Nicholas Seafood at the Sydney Fish Markets on 12 February 2016 after receiving a formal complaint about animal cruelty and undertook an investigation. RSPCA NSW supplied the business with the readily available Department of Primary Industry’s pamphlet ‘Guidelines for Avoiding Cruelty in Shellfish Preparation’ which outlines the industry standard for the humane treatment of crustaceans. They were issued with a fine, but instead opted to take the matter to court.


Nicholas Seafood have since taken steps to ensure best practice in their animal handling in the future.


The legislation is very specific in relation to crustaceans and is restricted to “only when at a building or place where food is prepared or offered for consumption by retail sale in the building or place” making it notoriously difficult to prosecute. In this case, the business supplies cooked food on the premises and so it falls under this legislation. This matter is the first crustacean conviction RSPCA NSW has seen.


For more information on how to humanely kill crustaceans, please visit:

All charges brought under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

For more information, or an interview with a RSPCA NSW 
spokesperson, please contact Stefania Kubowicz 
Mobile: 0488 905 353 | Email:

For all the latest RSPCA NSW news, be sure to read our blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.



Stefania Kubowicz

Media Liaison


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s