Anglers on the hook as study says fish feel pain

Three biologists claim today to have resolved the question at issue between anglers and animal rights activists – can fish feel pain? They can, the scientists say.

Detailed experiments on rainbow trout have indicated that the fish possess "nociception", which is the detection of a harmful, tissue-damaging stimulus, the researchers from the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh and Edinburgh University say.

Such nociception is accompanied by adverse behavioural and physiological effects that "fulfil the criteria for animal pain", report Lynne Sneddon, Victoria Braithwaite and Michael Gentle in a paper to be published in Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B.

There is no reference at all to angling in the paper but the Royal Society has headlined its press release "Trout Trauma Puts Anglers on the Hook?" The release states: "This is the first conclusive evidence indicating pain perception in fish. It has previously been established that birds and mammals are capable of experiencing pain."

Dr Sneddon said: "We found 58 receptors located on the face and head of the rainbow trout that responded to at least one of the stimuli."

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