Do fish feel pain? Some say yes.
The whole topic that fish feel pain is still very prevalent among journalists and scientists, it appears. Here is the beginning of a recent article by Tim Carman in the Washington Post:
Fish feel pain.
Read that sentence again: Fish feel pain.
The idea that fish suffer runs counter to almost everything Americans have been taught about creatures of the sea. That their brains are not complex enough to experience pain. That their behaviors when stressed — such as wriggling violently on a hook — are just unconscious reactions, disconnected from the suffering of sentient beings. That they’re, more or less, unfeeling little meat sticks that don’t deserve animal welfare protections.
Greg Abrams, a longtime commercial fisherman in Florida, perhaps best sums up the classic American attitude about fish and their potential to suffer: “God put these animals on the earth for us to survive on,” he says. “Whoever’s coming out with ‘fish are tortured’ or ‘fish feel pain,’ they’re not playing with a full deck. I don’t want to be rude.”
Yet, in recent years, scientists, researchers and biologists — all presumably with their decks intact — have been pushing back on our old ideas about fish pain. One professor has argued that the brains of certain ray-finned fishes are “sufficiently complex to support sentience.” Other academics wrote — in a paper confronting fish-pain skeptics, no less — that fish and other aquatic species “meet [the] criteria for sentience, including the ability to experience positive and negative emotions.”
The article goes on to state:
Then there’s Victoria Braithwaite, professor of fisheries and biology at Penn State University. She co-authored a groundbreaking study in 2003 that suggested fish anatomy was complex enough to experience pain and discomfort. She later wrote the book, “Do Fish Feel Pain?,” which includes this striking line: “I have argued that there is as much evidence that fish feel pain and suffer as there is for birds and mammals — and more than there is for human neonates and preterm babies.”
The scientific consensus, Braithwaite tells The Post, is that fish do feel pain. “Whatever that means for the fish,” she adds. “It’s not that they experience the pain that we do, which is more sophisticated.”
You can read the full article by clicking here. Do you have an opinion on fish feeling pain?