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Catcha Cray

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, October 6th, 2009 - 15 comments
Categories: animal welfare - Tags: ,

SAFE is campaigning against a new and very odd form of “entertainment” in pubs. Catcha Cray machines are just like arcade grab machines, with the key difference being that rather than the prize being a non-sentient soft toy, the prize is instead a living and feeling crayfish. SAFE’s campaign officer Mandy Carter says:

Like the soft toy machines, the catching process is primitive and obviously designed to fail, therefore adding to the stress and torment these animals will endure.

The catching and handling process can result in limbs being torn off or damaged. A caught crayfish amongst a crowd of drunken revellers is also of serious concern as they are at great risk of abuse.

SAFE have discovered a number of Auckland bars with Catcha Cray machines, and so far four have given into pressure from consumers and removed them. The Kingslander, the Naval & Family Pub, Globe Bar, and Thoroughbred Sports Bar removed the machines after numerous complaints, but the Backyard Bar, the Albion, and Happy Days seem quite happy to continue causing needless cruelty.

While the Catcha Cray manufacturers initially boasted that the SPCA were fine with the machines (due to one moron inspector, Tod Neal), the SPCA have now confirmed their absolute opposition with Chief Inspector Charles Cadwaller telling One News: “I can’t believe that it’s happening, it’s utterly abhorrent. Why on earth would anybody want to do that?”

SPCA Executive Director told Campbell Live:

They’re a living feeling animal, they’re tormented, this thing comes down and grabs them. It’s designed of course that you don’t win them easily, so it’ll be picked up and dropped, picked up and dropped, the limbs will go, it will be in torment. It’s disgusting.

There are questions around the legality of the game, with the SPCA unsure about the law in the absence of a Code of Welfare covering the treatment of crustaceans.

I think the SPCA or MAF should take a prosecution against one of the bars using the machines. Section 14(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 states that:

A person commits an offence who, being the owner of, or a person in charge of, an animal, without reasonable excuse,—

(b): sells, attempts to sell, or offers for sale, otherwise than for the express purpose of being killed, the animal when it is suffering unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.

Codes of Welfare are simply minimum standards created as regulations under the Animal Welfare Act for specific practices. Many cruel and illegal practices are not covered by a Code of Welfare, and while a Code can provide a defense under the Act, it is not necessary for a Code to be in place to successfully prosecute a case. A prosecution would allow the judiciary to make a ruling as to the current legality of the game.

In the alternative, Minister of Agriculture David Carter could instruct the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) to draft a Code of Welfare for the handling and killing of crustaceans. This too would make the law clear and hopefully get rid of a such a stupidly unnecessary and cruel form of “entertainment”.

[lprent: This was published on sunday. However I’m annoyed enough with the idiots who think that this is ‘fun’ to push it into a weekday for wider attention. ]

15 comments on “Catcha Cray ”

  1. lprent 1

    Urggh that is revolting. What kind of people would ‘hunt’ in that way? What kind of propieter would let it happen? That ranks with other sports like cock and dog fighting.

    Perhaps this is an opportunity for the police to use their powers under the act? After all they deal with the pubs at the times this is going on?It would be a good exercise for them to exercise their powers under the act. Sort of a toe in the water in something that so clearly violates the act, and which relieves the pressure on the over worked SPCA inspectors.

    • rocky 1.1

      Agreed, but I can’t think of a case under the Animal Welfare Act that the police have prosecuted. That’s despite them being one of the three bodies authorised to take prosecutions under the Act.

      • Rex Widerstrom 1.1.1

        My first thought when I read this was that NZ must rank as one of the most over-regulated (in terms of personal behaviour) and over-Policed countries in the world, yet there’s no law to automatically forbid this vile practice, let alone a willingness to prrosecute under the laws we do have?

        When willing and supposedly intelligent humans want to strap on sumo suits, be catapaulted into velcro walls or ride a mechanical bull in a pub, there’s busybodies galore telling the operators what they can and cannot do.

        Go a step further and try to run an “extreme fighting” event, again involving people fully cognisant of the risks, and you might as well be suggesting capturing people and burning them alive such is the outcry.

        Yet we’re free to inflict this kind of sickening sadism on a sentient creature and the Police can’t be bothered putting down their radar guns and tazers long enough to mount a prosecution?!

  2. the sprout 2

    a very sick practice. amazing it’s been allowed at any level really.

  3. Gordon Shumway 4

    Disgusting. Never knew such a thing existed so thanks for raising awareness.

  4. Heck even some Restaurants have stopped the practice of customers choosing their lobsters/crays that are swimming in a tank.

    But this is just sick, hopefully the SAFE campaign will work.

  5. Direct action anyone? What is it with some watering holes, dwarf throwing, wifebeater Wednesdays, and now Cray torturing. A small sledgehammer might just be the fashion accessory for that next happy hour.

  6. gomango 7

    what’s the background story to this comment?

    While the Catcha Cray manufacturers initially boasted that the SPCA were fine with the machines (due to one moron inspector, Tod Neal)

  7. Eclipse 8


    Near as I can tell from the news reports, the manufacturer of the games was visited by an SPCA inspector before the release of the machines, and said he was happy with the R&D and effects of the machine on the crays. The SPCA has responded that Catcha Cray were unwise to take this as an endorsement, describing it as an ‘off-hand comment.’ Much as I dislike the game, it’s a bit worrying that the SPCA is describing people who act on the advice of their officers as naive.

  8. George D 9

    Rocky, this is a worthwhile issue. But I would have thought that being burned alive was the most significant cause of suffering to crayfish in New Zealand. I don’t really get SAFE’s strategies.

    I also think that a campaign needs to be launched against the SPCA and MAF, for their consistent failure to prosecute animal welfare issues. In this case, as with many others, the law is pretty clear. s29 (c) and (h) cover this – being the sections that relate to the abuse of animals for entertainment purposes.

    Short of an amendment to the law allowing for other parties to launch prosecutions (which won’t happen under this Government, and I’m not confident of the next), causing the SPCA and MAF pain and embarrassment seems to be the only way to achieve a more consistent implementation of the AWA (which is a pretty good Act, in theory). When they realise that they have a job to do, things might improve.

    • lprent 9.1

      And the police…… who have more resources than either MAF or the SPCA

      • George D 9.1.1

        The Police have enough things to do, IMO. People expect them to chase burglars. I can’t remember them as ‘designated agents’, but I’m not sure on that matter.

        SPCA and MAF on the other hand.

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