Chatigny, F. 2019. The controversy on fish pain: A veterinarian’s perspective. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 22(4), 400-410.
Fish welfare is still a relatively new field. As such, regulations and protocols to ensure fish welfare are currently limited and vary considerably in different jurisdictions. This is in part because of the ongoing controversy as to whether or not fish feel pain. This controversy has persisted for several years, yet veterinarians have been mostly absent from the discussion so far. This essay aims to address this issue. Here, it is argued that while this controversy has its place, it is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. Fish welfare could instead be improved by pursuing more clinically applicable research to increase knowledge of fishes’ behavior and physiology. Such research would assist in learning the optimal environment for their specific needs, as well as compiling some verified indicators of pain in fish. This would then lead to improved studies that could help to determine if and when analgesic drugs can be beneficial in fish, as they are in many other species.