Do fish feel pain? According to a new study, the answer is: no.
A team of researchers determined that, even when it is struggling for its life at the end of a hook, a fish does not feel pain due mostly to a lack of brain power. They found that the struggling reaction is an unconscious one, not one caused by pain.
Previous studies have revealed that fish have sensory receptors called nociceptors. In humans, those receptors react by sending signals to the brain that cause the feeling of pain. However, the scientists determined that the presence of the nociceptors does not mean that the fish actually feel pain, it simply means they react to it.
Study leader, Professor James Rose from the University of Wyoming, notes that the fish brain lacks a highly developed neocortex which is also needed to feel pain. The combination means that fish react to pain without actually feeling it.
“I think that fish welfare is very important, but I also think that fishing and science is too,” said researcher Professor Robert Arlinghaus. “There are many conflicts surrounding the issue of pain and whether fish can feel it, and often anglers are portrayed as cruel sadists. It’s an unnecessary social conflict.”
To learn more about the issue of fish feeling pain, check out some of these links:
- Fish cannot feel pain say scientists
- Study: Can fish really feel pain?
- How Stuff Works: Do fish feel pain?
- PETA: Fish Feel Pain
- Scientific American: Underwater Suffering: Do Fish Feel Pain?
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