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Angling ... not so much of a pain!

"Oooo ... that looks sore!" Usually uttered by some city-dweller whilst observing an angler landing a prize fish. "Doesn't it hurt the fish?"

An overheard reply once went "Hurt? Na, scientists believe hooking a fish is akin to it as the pleasure derived from mating..." OK, so that is not entirely true, although who really knows. As ludicrous as this discussion may seem, there is a sect of extremist bunny-hugger types out there whose wont it is to stop us anglers enjoying what we do--Fishing. It is not worth wasting too much time discussing them, but it is relevant to note that scientists have in fact determined that fish do not feel pain.

A report published in the Daily Mail as far back as 2013 says "It is a debate that has raged for years. But now Britain's four million anglers (who inject a staggering 3.5 billion [pounds sterling] a year to the UK economy) can rest easy--because fish do not feel pain". Apparently, the sooth-sayers believe fish do not suffer when they are hooked and fighting for their lives, as scientists believe fish do not have a brain system or enough sensory receptors in the nerve cells to experience suffering. While fish straggle to get free, the scientists say this does not mean they are in pain. Instead, they show little effect from injuries and toxins such as lactic acid build up that would leave humans in agony. Some of their research entailed inserting needles into the jaws of Rainbow trout ... but don't worry as no creatures were harmed during this research.

Apparently, the international research team headed by Jim Rose, professor of zoology and physiology at the University of Wisconsin said: "In spite of large injections of acid or bee venom, that would cause severe pain to a human, the trout showed remarkably little effect." And shortly after these procedures, fish carried on with their nonnal lives. Prof Rose added: "It is highly improbable that fish can experience pain. We are not diminishing the importance of welfare considerations for fish, but we do reject the view that mental welfare is a legitimate concern."

This research is often verified on the ground by anglers. It is not uncommon to hook and land a fish which already has one or several hooks embedded in its mouth. Sometimes in tournament settings, these hooks are barely hours old, and the fish continues swimming around gulping more helpings of hook.

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Title Annotation:This n That
Publication:African Fisherman
Date:Aug 1, 2015
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