Fishing just got a whole lot less graphic as scientists declared today that fish lack the brain power necessary to feel pain. When a fish is hooked in the mouth via a lure, it’s thrashing and discontent is not caused by any sort of anguish, but instead by the fact that something keeps pulling its mouth away from its body.
The study, published in in the journal Fish and Fisheries declares that any distraught-looking actions by fish are unconscious movements as opposed to one’s caused by actual discomfort. In related news, fish are stupid.
Previous research had indicated that fish do have sensory receptors that are responsible for relaying pain in humans. Thus, it was commonly believed that fish could feel pain, and that is why they reacted negatively to sharp metal going through them. It turns out that fish only have the demo versions of these pain receptors. Fish react negatively to threats, but only on a sub-conscious level.
In the study, fish were repeatedly hooked, and then released. The fish showed what appeared to be pain while it perceived a threat, but after being released for a few minutes, the fish resumed a calm state. If fish could perceive pain, the hole the hooks had made would have continued to bother them after they were released.
James Rose, who led the study, noted that fish lack a developed neocortex in their brains; this segment is necessary to relay the concept of pain to the body. Fish may have the same sensors as humans, but lack the brain power to use them at the same level. Considering how fundamental feeling pain is to brain chemistry, it makes sense that scientist once gave fish the benefit of the doubt.
This new knowledge on just how dumb fish are changes the fishing landscape. For decades, the false perception that fish feel pain has cast an unnecessary moral cloud over fishing. James Rose claims that because fish don’t feel pain, that hook angling is actually the best method to catch fish, and it better for aquatic sustainability than other more “humane” fishing methods.
So there you go. Fish don’t feel pain. It seems past perception on fish may have just been a…