do fish feel pain?

as the title says…
you get animal rights protesters every where protesting about how animals are treated and killed however you never seem to get any kind of uproar about fishing. surely suffocating to death in a net onboard a boat isnt the most pleasant way to die. not to mention being dragged out of the water with a hook piercing their cheek

Try googling for ‘fish pain.’ There’s a lot of articles (though none very clear) the first of which is

For myself, I can’t see how they wouldn’t. They have a central nervous system, don’t they? And they have to run away from dangerous stuff like everything else.

No, I’m not sure why people seem to care less about fish. Maybe because they’re less like us, not being mammals?

There was an article published on BBC about this

A scientific study ‘reveals’ that fish do feel pain. Not really a surprise.

Presumably, the next study will be, “Does the bait feel pain?”

We met with a First Nations documentary filmmaker when we went to Nanaimo. He loaned us a video of one of his films that portrayed salmon hunting in his tribe. They use spears with detatchable points. There was a shot of the filmmaker spearing a fish, and a close-up of the results. The spear had penetrated the fish and the point (which was attached with a rubber(?) line came out the other side and acted like a toggle. There was no way the fish was getting away. Then he demonstrated how the Cowichan clean the fish and smoke it.

Not that it has anything to do with the OP, but it puts a hook-in-the-mouth into a different perspective.

Does the bait feel pain?

When I was growing up, I bought the ‘worms have no nerves’ that my elders told me about. I remember questioning it because limp worms would wriggle extensively when put on the hook. Also, on a sad note, I would occasionally throw a worm onto and ant pile and it would wriggle (and even jump) extremely, extremely much.

In college, I asked a couple of biology professors and they told me that worms have a well developed nervous system and would very much feel pain. Remembering my past transgressions, that knowledge made me cringe.

I think the thing with fish is, you can’t hear it scream.

I think it’s pretty much agreed that fish do feel pain. As far as harvesting them from the sea via large nets and the suffering they undergo by suffocating to death I think you’ll find that even if commercial fishermen agree that this is indeed suffering, the fact of the matter remains that net fishing is a matter of economics.

If we were to painlessly dispatch fish in order to consider eating it, I think it’s pretty clear that the costs involved would increase to the point that many people who eat fish today could not afford it.

From Bakhesh 's BBC article:
" “However, it is an entirely different matter to draw conclusions about the ability of fish to feel pain, a psychological experience for which they literally do not have the brains,” he said.

He quoted from a study by Professor James Rose of the University of Wyoming, US, in which it was found fish did not possess the necessary and specific regions of the brain, the neocortex."

Professor Rose authored an article in a fishing magazine a few years ago in which he said fish have a memory one-thirthieth of a second long. The gist of it was that fish “consciousness” (for lack of a better word) cannot be compared to mammalian consciousness.

In conclusion, I’d like to say “Pardon me for being higher in the food chain.”

AArrgh. That should say “one-thirtieth”, not “one-thirthieth”.

Especially not in space.


But the real question is, if the fish did scream, would it echo? :smiley:

As Mr. Duality alludes to, some people make a difference between nociception'', which is a biological concept related to nerve endings and travelling action potentials an so on, and pain’’, which is a philosophical concept related to the mental processes and feelings of the thing whose nociceptive nerve endings are being stimulated.

So if you choose to accept that distinction, it is possible to prove that fish do have nociception, but pain is not defined in a way that can be objectively measured, so that question cannot be uneqivocally answered.


Wasn’t there a post a few weeks ago about people who use foreign words in order to intimdate other people? :slight_smile:

I was gonna say, but I think you just did, that pain in fish is more likely to be a physical sensation that indicates the creature should take evasive action–the basic purpose of unpleasant sensations. Whereas pain in a human being (and presumably other more “complex” creatures) will also stimulate a thinking part of the brain designed to determine the source of the pain, why it hurts, several courses of action to take, and possibly what to do in the future to avoid it and, finally, if this pain could signify the END. Personally, once I’ve determined that a particular pain will certainly not be the death of me (hot water burn on my hand) my psychological stress is greatly reduced and I can deal with the situation. It seems fair to say that a fish PROBABLY has no sense of self apart from “food/not food,” “dangerous/not dangerous” and “SPAWNING TIME!!!”

In this line of thinking, the “pain” a fish feels doesn’t matter as much as the pain I feel when I’m choking on one of its ribs because it doesn’t ponder the mysteries of life & death on its way out.

“Pardon me for being higher in the food chain.”