Researchers squabble over fish-pain question
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Feb 12, 2017  |  Vote 0    0

Researchers squabble over fish-pain question

Orillia Today

Just about 2,000 years ago, Aristotle reminded anglers, “fish are caught in greatest abundance ... just about sunset and sunrise.”

Since then, inestimable fishing-related wisdom has surfaced. But, recently, some contentious issues have come to light. One of the most controversial is whether fish feel pain. Pro and con disputes have been getting increasingly bitter over the past decade

According to Victoria Braithwaite at Penn State University, fish have 20 pain sensors in their mouths and heads. Neurobiologists recognize these receptors respond to pain by stimulating the release of endorphins that are known to relieve suffering

“The broad consensus from the scientific community is that fish most likely feel pain,” confirmed Culum Brown at Macquarie University in Australia. “The evidence, scientifically, is so overwhelming.”
“Fish can perceive pain,” agrees Rebecca Dunlop at Queen's University in Belfast

Scientists agree that fish possess the necessary brain structures for detecting pain

“A review of the evidence for pain reception strongly supports that fish experience pain in a manner similar to the rest of vertebrates,” Brown pointed out

But, there are opposing views

“Fish have the simplest types of brains (and) the capacity to experience pain, as we know it, has required the massive expansion of our cerebral hemispheres,” said James Rose at the University of Wyoming. “We reject that the mental welfare (of fish) is a legitimate concern.”
“The proponents of the 'fish-feel-pain' controversy are untrained and unskilled in ... neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, and … untrained and unskilled in the physiology of consciousness,” reports Don Stevens at the University of Guelph

Matthew Leach and Lynne Sneden at Newcastle University claim that deniers of fish pain “are illogical, do not reflect published empirical evidence for pain in fish, and are out of touch with current theories on brain evolution.”
As the scientists continue their investigations, it’s clear that the philosophical divide between the two opposing groups will continue for the time being

While the researchers bicker, anglers are legitimately concerned that fishing might come under fire, because animal cruelty insinuations might result

One Ontario politician recently suggested that fishing should be outlawed if the fish-pain proponents' arguments are correct.

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