When animal testing was first performed a few hundred years ago, scientists dismissed cries made by the animals as mere reflexes. At this time, animals such as monkeys were used for all kinds of tests. Today, it is common knowledge that mammals are able to feel pain, however, fish and other types of animals are still thought to not be capable of feeling pain. With fish, sportsmen argue that they do not possess the brain power to feel pain.
However, new research proves otherwise. Janicke Nordgreen, a doctoral student at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science says that her research on pain and nociception in teleost fish indicates that fish are actually aware of pain. Nociception refers to the physiological response to stimuli that could potentially cause tissue damage.
This kind of research is important, especially taking animal welfare and rights into consideration. The newly published research will not be received well by sportsmen who favour fishing.
The dissertation looked into the response made towards potentially pain-causing stimuli in various fish such as the Atlantic Salmon, Goldfish and Rainbow Trout. Like, for example, the water the goldfish was in, was raised to 38 degree Celsius, which is a temperature deadly enough for a goldfish. During this experiment, the goldfish showed what Nordgreen calls ‘escape responses’. Likewise, the other two fish also underwent similar experiments to which each fish responded to potential harm and pain.
However, experts point out that one experiment is unsubstantial to determine the fact that fish can actually feel pain.