Nova Scotia Lobster - Detail 2 - ©

Swiss Outlaw Boiling Lobsters Live

I think everybody who’s ever ordered a Lobster dinner at a restaurant, let alone prepared one at home, knows how to cook a Lobster. You stuff it, head down, into a big pot of boiling water. But, now, in Switzerland, animal rights people have pushed through a new law, mandating more-humane methods…

Nova Scotia Lobster - © rismithlobster.caCanada’s best. Maybe the world’s. Even U.S. Seafood experts agree,
Nova Scotia Lobster is as good as it gets…

No kidding. Now, in Switzerland, you must stun your Lobster first, before placing it in the boiling water. And that’s not all. You must also follow more humane handling guidelines, which include transporting and storing live lobsters in conditions that ‘reproduce their natural environment’.

Now, my first thought was… Lobsters in Switzerland? It’s a landlocked country! But then I reflected, it’s also a rich country and folks there have travelled to places like Spain and France and Italy and even North America – all countries with seas costs – where Lobster is a common dish. They’re bound to have seafood restaurants there.

Next, I consulted the news wire services and found a ‘reaction’ piece by CBC News. Their reporters talked to Canadian East Coast Lobster catchers and received a variety of reactions. One man who’s been a Lobster fisher all his life said he thought it was a joke at first.

Nat Richard, Director of Corporate affairs at Westmorland Fisheries in Cap Pelé, New Brunswick, told CBC, “You almost wonder if it’s true or not.”

Canada already has high standards…

Canada and the U.S. already have very strict handling procedures for seafood. Some regulations here pertain to ‘humane harvesting’ while others are more concerned with safe food handling.

The Swiss say they don’t want lobster to feel pain before they’re cooked. Richard indicated he wasn’t convinced that hitting the Lobster over the head with a club to stun it was any more humane just tossing it in Boiling Water.

“It is not a crueller method than, for example, decapitating the animal with a knife … or electrocuting the animal in an electrified water bath.”

Will the new Swiss law affect Canadian Lobster exports?

Probably not. The CBC report noted that Canadians export a lot more Lobster to the U.S. and China every year than they do to Europe. But Richard also said he and his group will be keeping a close eye on developments in Switzerland and the EU in case the new Swiss regulations look to be coming across the pond. Yes, it would mean that every seafood restaurant would have to have a seawater tank to keep its lobsters in – something that was heretofore found only in high-end, fancy fish eateries as more of a decor feature than a kitchen appliance. And that would push the price of Lobster even higher.

~ Maggie J.