Study concludes fish don't feel pain

A NEW report by a team of top scientists from around the world has concluded once and for all that fish do not feel pain.

The news – which deals a killer blow to the claims that angling is cruel – comes following work by US professor Jim Rose and a team of researchers from Canada, Australia and Germany.

The study, which has been published in the scientific journal ‘Fish and Fisheries’, concludes that fish simply don’t have the brain facility, or the full complement of ‘sensory receptors’, for feeling pain.

Rose said that, although fish are equipped to quickly respond to ‘threatening stimulus’, such as the prick from a sharp hook, through their nervous system, they are not equipped to consciously feel pain and don’t remember the experience.

He wrote “Studies of catch and release angling have consistently demonstrated the resumption of normal activity immediately or within hours of release, with many instances of a fish being re-caught within minutes.”Rose added that it was ‘impossible to assume that fish possess a human like capacity for pain.’

The professor first came up with his conclusions 10 years ago, but then other scientists did a series of experiments using needles on fish to inflict what they thought was pain and announced that the fish did feel it.

Rose and his team say such claims are woefully lacking in adequate supporting evidence. “Research literature that alleges to show pain in fishes has failed to do so,” he concluded.

The news has been roundly welcomed by the fishing fraternity. Angling Trust boss Mark Lloyd said: “The debate about fish feeling pain has always been a red herring.  We’ve all observed fish that we’ve put back and seen how quickly they start behaving normally again.  Anglers care passionately about the protection of fish stocks and the welfare of fish and we do more than any other group to protect and improve freshwater and marine environments. Modern fishing tackle and techniques mean that fish which are released have an excellent survival rate and if fish are to be eaten, then angling is by far the most sustainable way of catching them. The vast majority of the public support angling and I hope that this research will increase that support.”