Is Fishing Cruel?
Humans have long considered
fish to be unintelligent creatures with little awareness and incapable of feeling
pain. In most countries 'fishing' is considered to be a 'good sport' for adults
as well as children. Being a commercial fisherman is thought to be a noble profession,
despite that fact that commercial fishing is destroying the oceans.
What if fish were in reality
intelligent creatures that not only felt pain but also had a sense of self and
felt emotions? Would we still be so eager to kill and eat fish if we knew that
they were not so different than us?
If a fisherman could be
a fish for a day it is likely that his attitudes would change very quickly.
Science is finally starting
to catch up to reality and is recognizing that fish are intelligent and sensitive
creatures. Numerous studies at Universities have shown that despite their small
brains fish do feel pain, are actually quite smart and do have emotional and
Theresa Burt de Perera studied blind Mexican cave fish and found that the
fish did more than merely avoid bumping into objects in their tank. They built
a detailed map of their surroundings, memorizing the obstacles. Once stored
in their brains, the fish used their "mental map" to spot changes
in the obstacles around them - something beyond even hamsters.
Dr. Burt de Perera says
that fish are underestimated. "The
public perception of them is that they are pea-brained numbskulls that can't
remember things for more than a few seconds. We're now finding that they are
very capable of learning and remembering, and possess a range of cognitive skills
that would surprise many people," she remarked in a recent interview.
Culum Brown was at the University of Edinburgh found that Australian crimson
spotted rainbowfish, which learned to escape from a net in their tank, remembered
how they did it 11 months later which is equivalent to a human recalling a lesson
learned 40 years ago.
Dr. Phil Gee at the University
of Plymouth showed that fish can learn to distinguish between different shapes,
colors and sounds and can tell time. In his research goldfish were placed in
a bowl in which they were fed only when they pressed a lever. The fish rapidly
learned that pressing the lever produced a food reward. Once the fish were trained
to press the lever, researchers set up the lever to work for just one hour a
day. The fish soon became wise to this, and learned to press the lever at the
same time every day. The activity of the fish around the lever increased enormously
just before the set hour when their food was dispensed. If no food came out,
they stopped pressing the lever when the hour was up. This demonstrates that
the goldfish not only had an awareness of time but also remembered their prior
experience and knew that there was no point to keep pressing the lever.
This new research shows
that the learning abilities of fish are comparable to land vertebrates and the
processes of learning are strikingly similar to those of other vertebrates.
Aquarists knew all of this
long ago because they observe their fish and care for them on a daily basis.
Most serious aquarists develop bonds with their fish and quickly realize that
fish are sensitive and intelligent creatures.
Dr. Dean Pomerleau and his son Kyle run a school to teach aquarium fish tricks. In the process they have learned just how smart fish really are.
The have trained a pet goldfish to "carry" a football, "shoot" a soccer ball into a net and even "dance" the limbo.
There are over 27,000 known
species of fish, more than all the other vertebrates combined. Fish are also
the most ancient of the major vertebrate groups. The fish world is substantially
larger and more complex than the world of land-dwellers.
Humans are not always the
most clever species. In an experiment conducted at the University of Cologne
in 1984, various hungry animals were required to perform a simple response in
order to receive food. Mammals pressed a lever, birds pecked a disc and fish
pushed a rod. Human infants took 28 attempts, whereas rabbits only took 24,
chickens took 10, koi carp took 4 and bees took only 2 attempts before learning
the connection. To be a true comparison of species intelligence the study should
have included adult humans as well, however, it does show that animals and insects
are more intelligent than we might suppose.
Fish, like many of Earth's
creatures, are endangered from human activity. Species are becoming extinct
before we even discover them and vast tracts of the Ocean are becoming dead
zones. The rape of the oceans in pursuit of fish not only impacts fish populations
but entire eco-systems.
If a being is intelligent
and feels pain is it wrong to torture it for sport as in fishing? Is it wrong
to kill it and eat it if one's own survival isn't dependent upon it?
- aware, sensitive and intelligent
Do humans have the
right to destroy other species and the planet?
The human consumption
of fish is the greatest cause of the destruction of the oceans. If you
buy fish or other sea creatures to eat you are directly responsible for
the damage caused by your purchase.
There is no nutritional
requirement in the human diet for sea-creatures. There is no requirement
for humans to eat any animal. We can be perfectly healthy on a diet of
fruits, nuts and vegetables.
If you would like
to demonstrate your intelligence, simply stop eating fish and other sentient
beings. The single most important thing you can do for yourself and the
planet is to use your big brain and adopt the diet your body was intended
for - you will improve your health and save countless harm and suffering
to other beings.
For more information visit www.animalsentience.com, www.fishinghurts.com, www.fish-school.com
By Bill Phillips