Do Fish Feel Pain? Maybe.


Most fishermen and divers do not typically worry about, do fish feel pain? However, many of us have been out on the water, and someone in the group will say something like … don’t hurt it. Right?

Do Fish Feel Pain - saltwater fish photo


There are also concerns that activities such as fishing, spearfishing, and commercial netting among others, causes pain in fish. If this were proven to be true, it would have wide sweeping implications to recreational and commerical fisheries around the world.


So, I wanted to learn and understand more about pain in fish and sea life in general. Do they feel any pains when hooked, injured or suffocating?

According to some scientists, fish do not feel pain the way humans do. The research team consisted of fishery scientists, behavioural ecologists and neurobiologists.

Part of their findings were that fish do not have “the neuro-physiological capacity for a conscious awareness of pain”.

According to the research study, there is no actual proof that fishes can feel pain.

Another study concluded that fish do not feel pain and also included reasons why. It is an interesting paper, but a little in depth.

Alternate Views on the Question

There are some groups that claim, fish do in fact feel pain and have feelings.

There have also been suggestions that finfish may respond to injury with reflexes, but is also refuted by others.

do fish feel pain - mahi mahi photo
Photo by manoellemos

A Key Issue

One of the key issues that scientists across the board debate and disagree upon, has to do with physical pain. Not everyone can agree on whether fish have a suitable nervous system and sensory receptors to feel physical pain.

So, Do Fish Feel Pain?

As humans, we sense and feel pain differently. And, obviously fish are not like humans. We may not yet fully understand how to measure and determine how fish feel pain, or if they have feelings at all.

It depends, I guess upon your perspective.