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article about ethics and fish pain etc.

Posted By: Dr. Momfish <alexp@idirect.com>
Date: Monday, 10 May 1999, at 10:27 p.m.

This is off the loaches topic, and generally about fish. This week-end in The Toronto Star the ethics editor, Tom Harpur, once an avid fisherman, wrote a column about the problem he has now encountered about whether fish feel pain or not and the effect on the fish when it is caught and then released.

He researched the article by speaking to an ichthylogist at the Royal Ontario Museum. There is no final word in yet about whether fish feel pain. However, there is a lot of information about how "playing" a fish on a light test line until it is exhausted and can easily be brought into the boat is a form of torture.

On those fishing shows where there is a "catch and release" policy, a very high percentage of the fish released die shortly after they are reintroduced into the water. Sometimes they die before being landed. Although most of the fish manage to swim away "the disturbances to the blood (too much lactic acid) and other body mechanisms, including changes caused by fear, fatigue and being out of water, have an impact far beyond the moments of fight and capture."

Lake trout die because they are suddenly brought up from much colder water and they cannot adjust to the higher temperature or the loss of pressure.

Almost all of the B.C. salmon that were tagged have disappeared. They did not survive the fact that they were caught, tagged and then set free.

****************************** Just thought I'd add this to our volumes of information. I think he should have also interviewed an experienced aquarist. We deal with stressed fish routinely whenever we acquire a new one and judging by the deluge of postings regarding sickly Khuli loaches, it would seem that stress is a big factor in whether fish survive all the transfers and shipments they must endure.

Do I think fish feel pain? Absolutely. Just because they don't speak English and tell us how they feel doesn't mean that they have no sensory nerve endings. After all they are vertebrates with a complex nervous system. Sick fish do the same things as sick dogs or cats. They find the most quiet corner and just hang around until either they get better or death takes them away. Fish with parasites can get very nasty and attack any fish that comes close to them. Fish also have a good memory. Once netted a fish is scared of the net for life. It must hurt and it must be traumatic.

That's why it's up to us to watch over them carefully. Study their behaviour so that you can tell the difference between what is normal and what is not.

All that we can do is be kind to our fish. Treat them with the respect they deserve as living beings with whom we share this planet.

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