Fish traders selling live lobsters at Leeds Kirkgate market have been contacted by council bosses over the sale of the sea creatures.
The move follows a complaint by an animal lover over the live crustaceans, which are placed in a box at the front of the stall with their pincers tied by elastic bands.
The complainant sent her letter to all 99 councillors on the local authority.
The shellfish are sold to the public priced at £7.98 per lb in weight, still in their original green colour.
The customer then buys them live to take home, where they would be expected to be killed and cooked by boiling in a pan of water.
Vegetarian campaign group Viva has said that although not illegal, the practice was “cruel beyond belief” .
Tony Wardle of Viva, added; “Research shows that animals feel pain, just like us.
“There are not that many places selling live lobsters as there used to be. Macro recently stopped selling them.
“Their pincers are tied up with elastic bands, so they cannot eat. This must be very frustrating for them and horribly cruel. There is also concern about declining fish and shellfish stocks.”
The manager of Ramsdens fish stall, which sells live lobsters, said: “We only sell live lobsters to meet the customers’ demands. We sell what the customer wants that is all I want to say.”
Leeds City Council has sent traders letters asking them to ‘consider the practice’.
Customer Christine Fennell, of Morley, said: “I don’t think it is cruel really. It is better they are fresh than not.”
The council’s markets champion Councillor Gerry Harper said the council’s action followed a complaint made in July from a member of animal welfare group VIVA. The complainant alleges that the sale of live lobsters is cruel and that the traditional methods of subsequently killing the lobster cause considerable distress.
He added: “We will also write to fishmongers advising they may wish to consider both their practice and their response to anyone who asks them to refrain from selling live shellfish.”