Take Action: Shrimp Get Their Eyes Cut Off and More

Shrimp are the world’s most-farmed animals—and they suffer terribly. An estimated 440 billion shrimp are farmed and killed each year for human food. Raised in horrendous conditions, around 50% die before reaching slaughter age. 

Mercy For Animals is taking a stand for shrimp by calling on Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, to ban cruel eyestalk ablation and transition from ice slurry to electrical stunning. These changes would have a massive impact on the five billion shrimp Tesco sources each year.

Eyestalk Ablation

Credit Seb Alex _ We Animals Media

The UK’s 2022 Animal Welfare Sentience Act recognizes shrimp as sentient beings, yet the vast majority of female shrimp still endure a gruesome practice known as eyestalk ablation. Eyestalk ablation is the removal of one or both of a shrimp’s eyestalks, the antenna-like shafts that support the animal’s eyes. The horrific act usually involves one of these methods:

  • Pinching and squeezing the eyestalk
  • Using heated forceps to burn off the eyestalk
  • Tying a thread or wire around the eyestalk to limit the blood supply until the stalk falls off

A shrimp’s eyestalks contain glands that produce hormones that influence reproduction. The industry claims that removing a female shrimp’s eyestalk makes her mature faster and release more eggs. Despite research showing that ablation negatively impacts their growth, lowers egg quality, and even raises mortality rates, this cruel practice is standard for hundreds of millions of mother shrimp in the global shrimp-farming industry. It can also cause stress and weight loss and may even make the shrimp’s offspring more vulnerable to diseases.

Electrical Stunning

Credit: Shatabdi Chakrabarti _ We Animals Media

Currently, most shrimp raised for food are killed through brutal methods, like suffocation or crushing, all while fully conscious and able to feel pain. Electrical stunning renders shrimp unconscious before slaughter, helping lessen their suffering.

Take Action

Several countries, such as the UK, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Norway, recognize shrimp as sentient and grant them some protections under the law. And recently, Albert Heijn, the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, published the first shrimp welfare policy from a mainstream retailer.

Shrimp deserve a kinder future. Join us in urging Tesco to ban eyestalk ablation and ice slurry in their shrimp supply chain by visiting StopTescoCruelty.org.

Cover Photo Credit: Shatabdi Chakrabarti _ We Animals Media