OPPONENTS of angling have jumped on a research paper on the issue of 'do fish feel pain?".

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Anti angling groups were featured in coverage by the national media of the latest review conducted by Dr Lynne Sneddon, from the Institute of Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool.

But angling’s governing body, the Angling Trust, believe the science hasn’t been validated, and that Dr Sneddon’s opinions are incorrect.

Angling Trust policy chief Martin Salter told Angler’s Mail:Dr Sneddon has form on this issue and her opinion contradicts the vast bulk of scientific research that demonstrates fish are cold-blooded creatures and do not possess the pain receptors to feel pain experiences by humans and mammals.

“If you put a ring through the nose of a bull you can easily lead it along but fish do the complete opposite and will pull wildly in the other direction.

“They just wouldn’t put up a fight if they felt pain the way a bull does,” added Martin.

The report’s claims

Dr Sneddon was quoted by national newspapers stating: “When subject to a potentially painful event fishes show adverse changes in behaviour such as suspension of feeding and reduced activity, which are prevented when a pain-relieving drug is provided.

“When the fish’s lips are given a painful stimulus they rub the mouth against the side of the tank much like we rub our toe when we stub it.

“If we accept fish experience pain, then this has important implications for how we treat them.

“Care should be taken when handling fish to avoid damaging their sensitive skin and they should be humanely caught and killed.”

Anti angling comments

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were quick to jump on the report’s publication.

Elisa Allen, director of the charity, said: “Anyone who has seen fish gasping for air while trapped in a trawler’s net, impaled at the end of a line, or floundering on the deck of a boat is sure to recognise that these animals experience fear, pain, and distress – just like humans do.”

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