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Do fish feel pain?

Article ID: 447
Last updated: 03 Mar, 2016
Revision: 2
Views: 14106

The answer is yes. Scientific evidence that fish are sentient animals capable of experiencing pain and suffering has been building for some years. It has now reached a point where the sentience of fish is acknowledged and recognised by leading scientists across the world.

If we accept that fish are sentient and can experience pain, then we have an ethical obligation to treat fish humanely and avoid practices that have the potential to cause them pain, injury or suffering. This has significant implications for the treatment of fish in commercial fisheries, aquaculture (fish farming) and in recreational fishing. Given the number of animals involved, the impact of current fish harvesting and capture methods on the welfare of fish is enormous.

A number of strategies are needed to address this problem, including:

  • reducing the number of fish caught
  • reducing the suffering of fish during capture
  • using humane killing techniques as soon as possible after landing fish
  • banning the use of live bait.

If you want to read more about what science can tell us about fish behaiviour and sentience, we recommend the book Do fish feel pain? by fish biologist Victoria Braithwaite, published in 2010 by Oxford University Press.

For more information on ways to improve the welfare of commercially harvested fish, you can visit the fishcount.org.uk website.


This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person's unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
Also read
document Are fish protected by animal welfare legislation?
document How can fish caught in commercial fishing be killed humanely?
document What is the most humane way to kill a fish intended for eating?
document What can be done to improve the welfare of fish and shellfish in restaurant aquaria?
document RSPCA Policy C11 Angling
document What does the RSPCA think about bluewater fishing?
document Does the RSPCA have animal welfare standards for salmon?
document How are farmed Atlantic salmon killed?
document How are farmed Atlantic salmon bred?
document Is intensive aquaculture similar to intensive land-based livestock production?
document Do the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standards for farmed Atlantic salmon address the welfare of seals and other predators near salmon farms?
document Do the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standards for farmed Atlantic salmon address the potential environmental impact of aquaculture systems?
document Does the RSPCA have animal welfare standards for fish?
document What are farmed Atlantic salmon fed?

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