According to an op-ed in The New York Times, fish do indeed feel pain. The piece discusses fish intelligence, self-recognition, love, and other feelings, including pain.
How do we know fish are intelligent? For one, they work in groups and even utilize tools, such as stones, to help them during feeding.
We also know they enjoy being petted: “Friendly groupers swim up to divers to receive strokes, and moray eels will cuddle with trusted divers.”
Additionally, the op-ed highlights a recent study conducted in Australia that revealed fish panic and go into shock when confined to small spaces. The author observes:
If temporary confinement to a small bucket traumatizes a fish, think what it feels like to be caught. Every year, an estimated half trillion fishes — lined up end to end, they would reach the sun — are hauled up from their habitat. They die by suffocation and crushing in order to provide food for us, our pets and livestock, and even for the fishes we farm. That, or we toss them back, usually dead or dying, as unwanted bycatch.
Whether they’re farmed or caught, fish are capable of feeling pain and fear much like land animals. Not only is killing them for food unnecessary; it’s inhumane, unsustainable, and unhealthy.
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