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Biologists Says Fish Feel Pain June 27, 2014
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Culum Brown is editor for Animal Behavior and assistant editor of the Journal of Fish Biology.
In a study likely to raise the ire of anglers, an Australian researcher says that fish have a level of mental complexity on par with most other vertebrates, and they can feel pain.

Writing in the journal Animal Cognition, Macquarie University biologist Culum Brown says fish have very good memories, live in complex social communities and can even recognize themselves and others.

He adds that fish behavior is very much the same as that of primates, except that fish do not have the ability to imitate.

Focusing on bony fish, Brown concludes that if any animals are sentient, fish must be too.

“Although scientists cannot provide a definitive answer on the level of consciousness for any non-human vertebrate, the extensive evidence of fish behavioral and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate,” concludes Brown.

He acknowledges that such a move has implications for the fishing industry, among others.

The study contradicts a 2013 report that concluded fish do not feel pain the same way humans do, as an emotional conscious response.

Photo: Culum Brown