DO FISH FEEL PAIN?
Author: Victoria Braithwaite
Publisher: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, May 2010
Explores the question of fish pain & fish suffering, explaining what science can now tell us about fish behavior, & examining the related ethical questions about how we should treat these animals. 5x8.5 inches, 256 pgs.
Each year millions of fish are caught on barbed hooks or left to die by suffocation on the decks of fishing boats. But while there has been increasing interest in recent years in the welfare of mammals, fish are thought to be too different--too dim-witted, too cold-blooded, too simple--to merit our concern.
Here, biologist Victoria Braithwaite explores the question of fish pain & fish suffering, explaining what science can now tell us about fish behavior, & examining the related ethical questions about how we should treat these animals. Fish have in the past been portrayed as slow, cold automata with a very simple brain that generates stereotyped behavior. But Braithwaite presents new scientific evidence that seriously challenges this view. Indeed, there is a growing body of science demonstrating that fish are far smarter & more cognitively competent than we have previously suspected. Several fish species are surprisingly intelligent & research has shown that they can have both accurate & long lasting memories, which in some cases, such as migrating salmon, can span years. Moreover, the author demonstrates that fish have more in common with other vertebrates than we think. Their overall physiology, for instance, shares many similarities with other vertebrates--even ourselves. The way that they respond to stressful situations, the so-called "stress response," is strikingly similar. After experiencing a stressful event, our bodies release cortisol into the blood, & the same is true in fish.
Victoria Braithwaite is one of the key scientists working on fish pain & she is also actively involved with both the fishing industry & the angling world, helping them sort through the implications of these findings. Though far from anti-fishing, she concludes that scientific evidence suggests that we should widen to fish the protection currently given to birds & animals.
* Reveals how scientists are discovering that fish are more intelligent & more responsive than we have been inclined to believe.
* Argues that the latest scientific evidence suggests that we should widen to fish the protection currently given to birds & mammals.
* Victoria Braithwaite is one of the key scientists working on the subject. She was one of a team who demonstrated, several years ago & to wide media attention, that fish have specialized pain receptors. Here, she explores the philosophical & ethical issues in an accessible & balanced way.
* Avoids polemic, seeking instead to encourage debate over how the fishing & angling industries may respond to improve the treatment of fish.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Victoria Braithwaite is Professor of Fisheries & Biology, School of Forest Resources, Pennsylvania State University. Her research investigates the evolution of animal cognition, focusing on fish learning, perception, & memory. She has advised the UK Government Animal Procedures Committee, has published numerous research articles, & written for the broadsheet media including the LA Times. In 2006 Professor Braithwaite was awarded the Fisheries Society of the British Isles Medal.