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Get hooked on compassion--not fishing

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Science has caught up with what I knew instinctively as a kid: Fish do feel pain, and they suffer greatly when they are impaled in the mouth by a sharp hook.

In her new book Do Fish Feel Pain?, biologist Victoria Braithwaite says that "there is as much evidence that fish feel pain and suffer as there is for birds and mammals--and more than there is for human neonates and preterm babies."

After surveying the scientific literature on fish pain and intelligence, not only did researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada conclude that fish feel pain, they also insisted that their welfare deserves our consideration.

For anglers who argue that fish "lack the brains" to feel pain, University of Guelph researcher Dr. Ian Duncan reminds us that we "have to look at behaviour and physiology," not just anatomy. "It's possible for a brain to evolve in different ways," he says. "That's what is happening in the fish line. It's evolved in some other ways in other parts of the brain to receive pain."

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