What does the “fish pain debate” obscure about animal welfare?

Over decades, scientists have spilled a lot of ink over the question of whether or not fish feel pain. What circumstances led to this long-standing inquiry, and what does the seemingly endless debate obscure? In a new article published in Issues in Science and Technology, researchers unpack the history of what they call “the great fish pain debate.” It’s a story that spans from South Africa to West Germany to the United States, and is rooted in an ongoing clash of values and interests. Ultimately, its authors assert, the question of whether a fish feels the sting of a baited hook is too narrow a framework for a broader discussion of animal welfare. What would that look like?

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