[DAH] Fish feel pain

Adam L. Beberg beberg at mithral.com
Wed Apr 30 18:26:56 PDT 2003

I really need to find out how to get funding for obvious research.

"By asking 'that depends what you mean by pain' we got a huge grant. Thank
you Clinton"


- Adam L. Beberg - beberg at mithral.com


New evidence that fish feel pain

Trout study may fuel anti-angling debate.
30 April 2003

New research hints that rainbow trout may feel pain when impaled on anglers'

The findings, from the Roslin Institute and the University of Edinburgh,
shake a long-held belief that fish lack the brain regions essential for
experiencing pain in a similar way to higher vertebrates and humans.

Fish have receptors on their skin and head that relay stimuli to the brain
and cause reflexes, such as withdrawal, when their tissue is being damaged.
But this is no guarantee of genuine pain perception.

The Scottish team injected trout with a bee venom or acetic acid in the jaw.
Among other reactions, the fish rubbed their lips and went into rocking
motions - reactions typical of higher vertebrates and mammals undergoing the
psychological experience of pain.

"Our research suggests noxious stimulation in the rainbow trout has adverse
behavioural and physiological effects. This fulfils the criteria for animal
pain," concludes team member Lynne Sneddon.

"These findings will stimulate necessary scientific discussion about pain
perception in fish," agrees Michael Pietrock of the Institute of Inland
Fisheries in Potsdam, Germany. They could also fuel controversy between
animal-protection groups and anglers, he adds. Campaign groups such as
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have long cited pain as the main
argument against fishing.

But the case is far from closed. The International Association for the Study
of Pain, which is affiliated to the World Health Organization, defines pain
as a purely conscious experience, with a sensory and emotional component. So
in order to show that a fish experiences pain, "it is necessary to show that
a fish has consciousness", counters fish physiologist James Rose of the
University of Wyoming in Laramie.

The new study does not do this, Rose believes: "The detection, processing
and transmission of information related to injury is unconscious and not

Quirin Schiermeirer is German Correspondent for the journal Nature

Sneddon, L.U. et al. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, (2003).
Rose, J. The Neurobehavioral Nature of Fishes and the Question of Awareness
and Pain. Reviews in Fisheries Science, 10, 1 - 38, (2003).

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