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Bryan Pratt’s works of fiction.

By mos - 1 March 2010 61

About five weeks ago, the Canberra Times fishing columnist Dr Bryan Pratt dismissed the idea that fish could feel pain, branding those who suggested they could as “crazies, bigots, Luddites”. He went on to state that, “The full weight of scientific opinion … indicates that fish do not feel pain”.

He’s clearly and demonstrably wrong; there has been significant scientific research and opinion indicating that they can indeed feel pain including:

  • “After reviewing the current scientific evidence and exploring the many arguments, it is irrefutably substantiated that fish are capable of experiencing pain”. (“An HSUS Report: Fish and Pain Perception”, Feb 2008)
  • Norwegian School of Veterinary Science doctoral student Janicke Nordgreen studied nociception and pain in fish and concluded that it is very likely they can feel pain. (Reported in Science Daily, 15 Jan 2010)
  • “Recent suggestions that fish cannot experience pain or suffering do not appear to be supported by the current research. The evidence I have presented suggests that fish do have the capacity to experience pain and fear, and therefore we need to consider how to minimise their potential suffering”. (“Fish Pain Perception”, V.A. Braithwaite)

The following week, Pratt restated his claim saying, “I repeat that the vast body of scientific opinion is that fish do not feel pain. That’s not just my opinion, it’s that of independent scientists worldwide and I am happy to pass on that information without denigrating anybody else’s opinion”.

He was asked on the day that column was published for the offered ‘information’ but despite a couple of reminders it has still not been supplied.

It is one thing for Pratt to hold an opinion – he’s entitled to that – but to misrepresent “the vast body of scientific opinion” while denigrating those who disagree with him is unprofessional and unacceptable.

I suppose his stance is understandable – he makes his living telling people how to catch and kill fish then selling them the gear to do it.

Finally, RSPCA policy states, “RSPCA Australia considers that the available scientific evidence demonstrates that fish are capable of experiencing pain and suffering”. I wonder whether Pratt regards them as crazies, bigots or Luddites.

Pratt should either provide the information he promised a month ago or retract his statements.

What’s Your opinion?


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61 Responses to
Bryan Pratt’s works of fiction.
harvyk1 1:11 pm 01 Mar 10

The actual question is do fish have the same sort of emotions about pain as we do…
Have a read of this – http://www.howstuffworks.com/outdoor-activities/fishing/fish-conservation/responsible-fishing/fish-pain.htm

Thoroughly Smashed 1:01 pm 01 Mar 10

basketcase said :

It has been shown that plants feel pain when severing occurs.

Is there a source for this? Bonus marks for papers appearing in peer reviewed journals.

basketcase said :

we all know the scientific community have their own barrows to push and so bend the evidence.

We do?

basketcase said :

“Scientific evidence” is useless and irrelevant here.

How do you figure?

neanderthalsis 1:00 pm 01 Mar 10

Of course fish don’t feel pain. Last time I caught one it voiced no complaint at my dragging it out of the water and cutting its head off. Infact, it seemed to quite enjoy the experience…

Sounds like a piece of nutjobbery to me. Mind you, at the other end of the looney spectrum you get the vegetablearians/vego-nazis that still eat chicken and Sea Kittens but harp on at you about it inhumanity of eating rare steak.

Thumper 12:31 pm 01 Mar 10

It’s pretty simple really. Fish have a central nervous system which evolved over countless millenia so that they could recognise pain, thus danger, and therefore escape. As caf notes, it’s an essential survival tool.

Ema Chizit 12:17 pm 01 Mar 10

The idea is fish feel no pain so we feel no guilt

caf 12:12 pm 01 Mar 10

Seems to me like the ability to feel pain is a basic survival tool.

I reckon “fish don’t feel pain” has the ring of an old wives tale.

basketcase 11:59 am 01 Mar 10

And what about plants? It has been shown that plants feel pain when severing occurs. Obviously we will all have to stop eating to placate the loonies and their bent and twisted minds.

What are loonies going to do about nature where big fish eat small fish, where the bigger and faster animals eat the smaller and slower animals?

It’s about time the loonies moved on and realize we all live in the same animal kingdom where dog eats dog. (watch politicians for lessons)

Scientific opinion has nothing to do with it and besides, we all know the scientific community have their own barrows to push and so bend the evidence. “Scientific evidence” is useless and irrelevant here.

shauno 11:10 am 01 Mar 10

I use to love the spicy sole at Portias Place in Kingston. But wasnt on the menu last time I went there.

chewy14 10:27 am 01 Mar 10

Depends on how you define pain.

vg 10:04 am 01 Mar 10

They taste good though….especially battered

Spoono 9:40 am 01 Mar 10

What’s he a doctor of? Nutjobbery? Course they can feel pain, they’ve got a central nervous system just like us. That’s why they fight, to get away from the pain in their mouth otherwise they would just lie there dumbly and let you reel them in. I used to be into fly fishing in my teens but I’ve haven’t been fishing in years, hurting fish for fun isn’t much fun.

p1 8:53 am 01 Mar 10

On the other hand, “it’s ok to eat fish
Cause they haven’t any feelings” – Kurt Cobain.

I have always though it hypocritical that laws in the country protect the rights of animals from all sorts of abuse, but allow for the pulling of fish from the water using a metal barb through the side of there mouths. But then I don’t fish.

Growling Ferret 8:51 am 01 Mar 10

misrepresent “the vast body of scientific opinion” while denigrating those who disagree with him is unprofessional and unacceptable.

It seems to work for Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt, and their readership is far wider and more influential than a local fishing writers…

indigoid 8:49 am 01 Mar 10

Pain or no pain… They sure taste good!

housebound 8:17 am 01 Mar 10

It’s not really news that the Canberra Times has published wrong and biased information again (or refused to publish a view it didn’t want). But this site would be very active if we all complained every time.

That aside, any creature with a central nervous system feels pain, sadly. It’s a bit of a biological fact that only the ignorant would ignore.

Maybe we should eat only animals bred for eating – like the hitchhikers’ cow.

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