The suffering of tuna and fishes

"Evidence of sentience in fish "I have argued that there is as much evidence that fish feel pain and suffer as there is for birds and mammals -- and more than there is for human neonates and preterm babies."

Prof. Victoria Braithwaite, Do Fish Feel Pain? page 153.

"Humans interact with fish in a number of ways and the question of whether fish have the capacity to perceive pain and to suffer has recently attracted considerable attention in both scientific and public fora. Only very recently have neuroanatomical studies revealed that teleost fish possess similar pain-processing receptors to higher vertebrates. Research has also shown that fish neurophysiology and behaviour are altered in response to noxious stimulation. In the light of this evidence, and in combination with work illustrating the cognitive capacities of fish, it seems appropriate to respond to a recently published critique (Rose 2002) in which it is argued that it is not possible for fish to experience fear or pain and that, therefore, they cannot suffer. Whilst we agree with the author that fish are unlikely to perceive pain in the same way that humans do, we believe that currently available evidence indicates that fish have the capacity for pain perception and suffering. As such, it would seem timely to reflect on the implications of fish pain and suffering, and to consider what steps can be taken to ensure the welfare of the fish that we exploit."

Braithwaite, V.A.; Huntingford, F.A. Source: Animal Welfare, Volume 13, Supplement 1, February 2004 , pp. 87-92(6)

"Some people argue that ‘smart’ animals suffer more than do less intelligent beings and therefore it is easier to justify the use of invertebrates, fish, and various rodents rather than dogs, cats, or great apes, for example. However, intelligence and suffering are not necessarily correlated and clever animals do not suffer more than less clever individuals."

Prof Marc Bekoff 2006a, 2007.

"The emotional lives of fish and other aquatic organisms are difficult to study because the way in which they might communicate their feelings is not readily apparent to humans. Their emotions are not as public as those of mammals, for example. This does not mean, of course, that fish and other aquatic organisms do not experience various emotions including pain and suffering. The faces of many aquatic animals are not very expressive, but many fish and octopuses, for example, change colors in different social contexts, and these changes seem to be related to how they feel about the situation in which they find themselves"

(Anderson, 2000).

"Most people are familiar with the phenomenal cognitive skills and sentience of animals such as cetaceans and other charismatic species, but it is only very recently that solid scientific information has been published about pain in fish (Sneddon 2003, Moccia & Duncan 2004, Chandroo et al. 2004a,b) pain and suffering in cephalopods and decapod crustaceans (see Advocates for Animals 2005), and the impressive social skills, culture, sophisticated learning abilities, long-term memory, cooperative behavior, and recognition skills of fish (Bshary et al. 2002; see also EFSA 2005 for a comprehensive summary of the biology, sentience, emotional lives, and welfare of a wide variety of taxa including aquatic animals and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics (2005) report on the ethics of research involving animals).

There is evidence that fish such as rainbow trout experience fear (Moccia & Duncan 2004) and that it is entirely reasonable to assume that many fish are sentient and have the capacity to suffer (Chandroo et al. 2004a,b). Thus, Chandroo et al. (2004a) argue that the concept of animal welfare can legitimately be applied to fish. …. Charles Darwin’s idea of evolutionary continuity, in which variations among species are differences in degree rather than differences in kind, is very useful in the study of animal intelligence, animal emotions, and our ethical obligations to other animals. Basically, Darwin argued that there are shades of gray among different species and that the differences are not black and white. So, if humans feel emotions and can suffer, then so too can other animals, but their feelings are not necessarily identical. However, even if they are not identical, this does not mean that they do not exist. It is possible that fish and lobster pain is different from dog, chimpanzee, or human pain, but each individual suffers his or her own pain. "

Prof. Marc Beckoff, 2007, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, USA.
- Link for the PDF “Aquatic animals, cognitive ethology, and ethics: questions about sentience and other troubling issues that lurk in turbid water”.

The suffering of tuna
and other fish

"Pain and stress can be witnessed though the struggling and thrashing movements of the tuna while suspended in the air. Increasing bodies of research over the past few years have demonstrated fishes' capacity to experience pain."

Lorelei Wakefield, VMD

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