Liberate Rowing Language: Let’s Retire ‘Catching a Crab’

Posted by on March 27, 2023 | Permalink

It’s time to liberate the language we use in rowing. We are calling on all coaches, commentators, and rowers to replace the common phrase “catching a crab” – used to describe a rower losing control of an oar – with “liberating a lobster”. We are sure this would go some lengths towards encouraging compassion for crustaceans.

Words Matter: We Should Stop Normalising Cruelty

It’s simple: the phrase “catch a crab” normalises hurting animals. It may inadvertently encourage people to pull these sensitive animals from the safety of their watery homes.

Captured crabs endure agony when their legs are damaged or torn off by workers ripping them from fishing nets. Some mutilated crabs – who need their claws to feed and defend themselves – are tossed back into the ocean, where they suffer and die.

Most crabs who are hauled out of the water will ultimately be killed in crude ways, including by being boiled alive.

Using the phrase “liberate a lobster” would surely inspire the public to spare countless crustaceans the agony of the boiling pot.

Crabs Deserve to Be Protected, Not Persecuted

Did you know that crabs sometimes greet each other by waving their claws? They also care attentively for their young and keep their homes clean.

Along with lobsters and other animals, crabs were recently recognised in UK law as sentient. These fascinating individuals can feel pain and fear, just like us. They value their lives and do not want to be yanked out of their aquatic homes and end up on our plates.


Avoid Speciesist Language

Phrases such as “kill two birds with one stone”, “beat a dead horse”, “bring home the bacon”, and “catch a crab” perpetuate violence against some of the most defenceless members of our society. They are rooted in speciesism, the misguided belief that other animals are inferior to humans so it’s acceptable to cause them suffering.

Just as racist and sexist words are now recognised as harmful, language that’s degrading towards animals should also be phased out.

Spare a Thought for Crustaceans

The best thing you can do for crabs and lobsters is to stop eating them. Take our vegan pledge and we’ll send you weekly recipes and tips:

Please also take a moment to urge Amazon to stop selling live lobsters: