Fans of fishing will often use the excuse that fish apparently do not feel pain. Perhaps, they use this reasoning to alleviate the guilt that comes with hooking the creature out of its natural habitat only to throw it right back in after a few poses and photographs.
If you are one of them, a new study, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society claims that fish feeling no pain is untrue.
According to the study, which was authored by Lynne Sneddon at Liverpool University, Nemo, Flipper, Flounder and their friends can actually sense pain in a way similar to human beings.
In the study, Sneddon explained that when fish's lips are given a painful stimulus, they rub their mouth against the side of the tank much like the way humans rub their toe when they stub it.
The researcher came to the conclusion after studying a variety of fish and their behaviours after being caught using a hook and in a humane manner.
In the study, she found that the Marine shiner perch, a species of fish which feed using a suction technique, consume less food after being caught with the hook. In addition, goldfish, when suffering an electric shock will avoid that area for days. This suggests that the memory of pain prevents them from going back. Notably, the fish were even given painkillers which showed them reverting to normal behaviour post injury, indicating that they do feel pain.
Sneddon concluded that if one accepts that fish experience pain, it is important to understand how one treats them. Sneddon advocated that care should be taken when handling fish to avoid damaging their sensitive skin and they should be caught and killed humanely.