Brian Key, Why fish do not feel pain


Sport fishing or angling is the capture of fish for recreation or competition, i.e., for entertainment. Contrary to the claims of Key (2016), there is good evidence that fish feel pain and have the capacity for self-awareness (Sneddon et al., 2018; Woodruff, 2017). Wild fish experience a variety of adverse conditions in nature that can harm their welfare, but this does not justify humans intentionally inflicting such conditions on fish solely for our pleasure. This commentary summarises the many ways fish suffer harm to their welfare as a result of sport fishing. There are also discussions on associated activities that have negative effects on the welfare and conservation of other animals, as well as deleterious impacts on the environment. We should not allow scientific evidence-based conclusions to be discounted because of the large number of people that participate in the sport or the large sums generated for regional or national economies. The time has come for improvements in fish welfare to be incorporated in sport fishing, and a logical starting point would be the development of welfare guidelines for anglers.

Author Biography

Tim Holmes is a conservation biologist with more than 30 years of experience in the management of threatened species, reintroduction of species, captive wildlife, wildlife research, wildlife kept as pets, trade in wildlife and wildlife causing grief to people. Much of his work has incorporated animal welfare issues. Website