The New Brunswick woman who launched a petition to have lobster tanks banned from grocery stores is continuing the push for change.
Andrea McAnany launched the petition in December after her son said he felt bad for the lobsters after seeing dozens of them crawling all over each other with their claws stuck together in a grocery store tank.
The petition now has more than 14,000 signatures and McAnany tells Global News she is still pursuing the cause and doing research into the treatment of lobsters.
“It’s encouraging,” McAnany said. “I’m happy to see the increase in signatures. It shows that despite some negative feedback, which absolutely there always will be, there’s a lot of people that support the cause as well.”
She said she’s gotten lots of negative comments and said she is happy to hear debate, but she is not trying to hurt the industry.
“I’m in no way looking to eliminate the industry, or challenge the industry, I’m just looking to have the entire process reviewed so that we can ensure that if we do choose to eat lobsters, that we’re doing it in a respectful manner,” McAnany said.
She said she’s asking for a “positive review” of a process she said has been in place for a long time without any review.
“I understand that lobster fishing is a huge culture in the Maritimes,” McAnany said. “I was not ignorant to that when I began this petition, I am not challenging that, I don’t want people to suffer economically in any form or fashion. I would just like us to review the process by which we are taking them out of their natural habitat, transporting them to even massive tanks in storing facilities and then re-transporting them to grocery stores to then sit in tanks once again.”
She said that process seems disrespectful to the lobsters and said that’s what she wants to have reviewed. McAnany said she believes that can be done without impacting the industry.
McAnany said she’s in communication with Dr. Robert Elwood, professor emeritus of animal behavior at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, about the issue. Elwood has found evidence that strongly suggests crustaceans do experience pain.
“Given that we have new scientific research … it’s our responsibility as a dominant species to review those researchers’ findings and to act accordingly and ensure that we’re not causing unnecessary harm to creatures that act as nutrition for some,” McAnany said.
She said her goal is to reach 15,000 signatures and said once she does she plans on presenting the petition to Sobeys, but said she believes the push also needs to come from animal welfare regulations. McAnany said if ‘rights’ are given to crustaceans, then people will follow those laws.
Global News reached out to Sobeys for comment but did not receive a response. In previous correspondence with the company, Sobeys Inc. director of external communications Jacquelin Weatherbee said Sobeys has a number of processes and protocol in place related to the handling and storage of live lobsters.
Weatherbee also previously said they are always open to hearing feedback from customers and reviewing new information on animal welfare standards as it becomes available.