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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 April, 2003, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Head-to-head: Feelings of fish
Anglers dispute the latest fish research
Researchers have found evidence which suggests that fish feel pain. The scientists from the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh found sites in the heads of rainbow trout that responded to damaging stimuli. They also found the fish showed marked reactions when exposed to harmful substances.

The National Angling Alliance's scientific adviser Dr Bruno Broughton disputes the research but animal welfare charity Peta's director of campaigns Sean Gifford says it reinforces its belief that fish do feel pain.

Dr Bruno Broughton, a fish biologist, says the research does not support the conclusion that fish feel pain.

The research is very interesting and it appears to be rigorously done, but the conclusion is not supported by the research.

The ways in which the researchers studied the physiology of the fish - the rate of respiration and the time it took to resume feeding - do not support the premise that fish feel pain.

In particular, although they found special sensory cells around the mouth of the fish and drew parallels with the presence of sensory cells in higher mammals, they did not examine the capability of the fish's brain to process the information.

Fish just don't have the brains to recognise pain.

The so-called emotional centre of the brain is missing in fish.

I do not think this research will have any effect on anglers, but anglers do take the wider issue of fish welfare very seriously.

There is national legislation, local bye-laws and regulations regarding specific fisheries.

Anglers have a vested interest, because without fish there wouldn't be anglers.

Sean Gifford, director of campaigns at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, says the research supports its stance that fish do feel pain:

For many, many years we have been anti-angling.

This study is just another one proving that what we have been saying is true - fish are capable of feeling pain.

They may not be as cute or cuddly as a cat or dog, but they still feel pain and want to avoid it just like us.

For years anglers have been using the defence that fish can't feel pain, but there is nothing sporting about tricking a small animal into death by hooking a sharp implement into its mouth.

You can't ignore the fact that at the end of the line is a terrified animal in a desperate struggle for its life.

Fish do feel pain, scientists say
30 Apr 03  |  Science/Nature

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