Having been a long term fisherman (obsessive) since knee high to a grasshopper and from there become a *naturalist, *marine biologist, (*very amateur) and advocate of 'care' of fish I often find myself asking this question:
'Do Fish Feel Pain, And If So Is It Our Responsibility To Negate This 'Pain'?
I have read study after study on the possible pain thresholds of fish, some studies would have you believe that fish do indeed feel pain, to a greater or lesser degree dependent on the study perused, which after a time becomes very confusing.
However, I'm not ONLY speaking of the pain associated with the actual hooking of fish in the lip, much more of a broad spectrum really.
Gaffing, the use of Boga Grips (to lift a fish without support) and indeed holding a fish by the gills or not supporting the body of a fish can in my opinion cause any fish to feel pain, again to what degree I know not.
But from my basic understanding of fish biology any fish is capable of feeling pain especially when the outlined methods are used by recreational fisherman.
As I said, I have been an obsessive fisherman for many many years, now solely a Saltwater flyfisherman, I no longer keep any fish for the table. Having said this I have no problem with anyone wishing to put a feed on the table at all, your choice and if done correctly then good for you, but.
Time and again I see fish (be they for the table or photographs) held, handled, gaffed in a manner that I can't help but think it causes untold pain to the fish involved.
If you are taking fish for the table then I feel it is still our responsibility to handle said fish in a manner that will cause least harm up to the moment of a humane despatch.
It is a very grey area indeed and a subject that could open a can of worms, but in your opinion do fish feel pain and if so should we as responsible recreational fisherman take this into account when out on the water?
Lets face it, there are enough people out there (UK and Australia anyway where I have more experience of) that will take 'any' evidence of fish 'cruelty' and use it to further evidence their feelings that fishing is a 'blood sport' and use inflammatory and often vitriolic language to convey their point of view.
I do tend to think that 'fish' in many peoples eyes (normally non fisherman) are just that, 'fish', slimy, slippery creatures with no capability to 'feel'.
I love all of natures wonders but do become a little perplexed when a furry, fluffy, cute creature is treated cruelly or mishandled and raptures of discord are voiced in defence of said furry, fluffy, cute critter, but when 'fish' is handled badly the silence can be deafening.
I have previously said I am a very passionate fisherman and will fight for our sport come hell or high water, but time and again I see instances of what could be construed as fish cruelty and wonder is there more we could do as recreational fisherman.
Last edited by Eleutherabound; 04-09-13 at 06:41 AM.
Yes, I'm sure fish can feel pain just like all animals. Nerves tell us when we are being damaged.
Since marine predators have to swallow prey (often having sharp spines), their mouths and throats must have fewer nerve endings and thus hooks are probably more easily tolerated. But their skin has extra sensative receptors (particularly along the lateral line) to sense pressure changes and allow them to sense each other and coordinate a school's behavior or to sense and avoid predators. As far as holding fish out of the water by the jaw, delicate internal organs can break free (which would cause pain if it were to happen to you or me) and that could well lead to mortality. So, it's best to keep them in the water and to kill them humanely if they are to be kept for consumption. As far as the time it takes to photograph or show off a fish out of the water,I think of it as the same time I'd like if I were to be held underwater and how I'd feel after more than a few seconds.