Vegan Grandma

Monday, October 09, 2006

Do Fish Feel Pain?

The following are quotes from an article found at the website of the Los Angeles Times.

For the complete article go to: Http://

That Fish You Caught Was in Pain
Research challenges the myth among anglers that fish can't feel pain from barbed hooks.

By Victoria Braithwaite, a behavioral biologist at Edinburgh University, now on sabbatical at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin.
October 8, 2006

"We stimulated the nociceptors by injecting diluted vinegar or bee venom just under the skin of the trout. If you've ever felt the nip of vinegar on an open cut or the sting of a bee, you will recognize these feelings as painful. Well, fish find these naturally irritating chemicals unpleasant too. Their gills beat faster, and they rub the affected area on the walls of their tank, lose interest in food and have problems making decisions. "
"When I have a headache, I reach for the aspirin. What happens if we give the fish painkillers after injecting the noxious substances? Remarkably, they begin to behave normally again. So their adverse behavior is induced by the experience of pain."

"Scientists and philosophers have long debated consciousness and what it is and whether it is exclusively human. There are multiple definitions and, frankly, we haven't really come to grips with what it means to be conscious ourselves. Are we conscious because we are capable of attributing mental states to others, or perhaps because we have a qualitative awareness of feelings, whether positive or negative? And if we can't define our own consciousness, can we expect to detect it in fish?"
"It turns out that the stereotype of fish as slow, dim-witted creatures is wrong; many fish are remarkably clever. For example, they can learn geometrical relationships and landmarks — and then use these to generate a mental map to plan escape routes if a predator shows up."

"Moreover, we actually have as much evidence that fish can suffer as we do that chickens can. I think, therefore, that we should adopt a precautionary ethical approach and assume that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, fish suffer. "

"But I do find it curious that it has taken us so long even to bother to ask whether fish feel pain. Perhaps no one really wanted to know. Perhaps it opens a can of worms — so to speak — and begs the question of where do we draw the line. Crustacean welfare? Slug welfare? And if not fish, why birds? Is there a biological basis for drawing a line? "


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