Debating fish pain

Online publication

In “The Great Fish Pain Debate” (Issues, Summer 2010), Troy Vettese, Becca Franks, and Jennifer Jacquet rightly state that in Germany the assumption that fish feel pain resulted in court cases and fishing-related legislation from the 1980s onward. The initial focus was on fishing competitions, which were ruled as unjustifiable because their primary motive was competition and not food. The Bad Oeynhausen case of 2001 on catch-and-release was the last in a long string of cases that dealt with keep nets, put-and-take fishing, and live baitfish.

However, the case did not have the importance Vettese et al. attribute to it. Importantly, public surveys published in 2014 show that the majority of the German public has no ethical problem with catch-and-release. In contradiction to what the article’s authors imply, catch-and-release continues to be allowed if there is a good reason for it, and competitive fishing events continue to exist whenever an acceptable goal is served, such as to improve water quality by harvesting overabundant cyprinids (a family of freshwater fish that includes carp).




Arlinghaus, R., Cooke, S. J., Derbyshire, S. W. G., Rose, J. D., Browman, H. I., Skiftesvik, A. B., Sneddon, L. U., Brown, C., Key, B., Brown, D., Jacobs, J. R., Gagliano, M., Roncancio, I. D. V., Klefoth, T., Porcher, I. F., Neste, A. V., Sanbonmatsu, J., Diggles, B. (2020). Issues in Science and Technology 37, no. 1 (Fall 2020)

Published : 2020
Appeared in : Issues in Science and Technology 37, no. 1 (Fall 2020)