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Most Humane Way to Clean Fish



 
 
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  #1  
Old November 16th, 2005, 02:12 PM
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Default Most Humane Way to Clean Fish

I saw this in Google's cache of a webpage that no longer exists, and I
figured I'd preserve it by posting it he


-----------------------------


The Most Humane Way to Clean Fish


** Those of us who fish have on frequent occasion, wonder to what
extent fish feel pain during the process of catching and cleaning them.

We certainly are concerned with the survival of those species that we
release, taking care to make sure that they swim away to "fight another

day." But what about those that make into our coolers?


What is the most humane way of dealing with the basic living creatures?

For the answer, here are the thoughts of neurobiologist Dr. Sarah Fox,
who has done extensive research into the sensory aspects of fish.


By Sarah Fox, Ph.D.


As a neurobiologist who has done some work with fish, and as a recent
observer of the fishing/cleaning process, I'm quite concerned at some
practices (not mentioned in the article) that have been time-honored
common practice, at least among sport fishermen. I have a few very well

educated thoughts, and I would appreciate your making your readers
aware of them somehow.


My concern isn't so much how to *clean* a fish as it is how and when to

*kill* it. I was horrified to watch as one fisherman pulled a live fish

out of a bucket and clumsily started scaling it. When he was done with
the scaling, he cut the head off. He explained that he needed the head
to hold, in order to do the scaling. I pointed to a scaling board (with

a tail clamp) about 3 feet from him, suggesting that he could cut the
head off first, and *then* scale the fish on the board. He didn't want
to do it that way. He said the fish didn't feel anything anyway,
because it's a cold-blooded animal.


As a neurobiologist, I've done quite a lot of work on cold-blooded
animals. It is an outright myth that they don't feel pain. They do.
I've personally recorded from nerve cells that transmit pain
information to the brain, so I know the pain information is there. An
animal would certainly have a difficult time surviving if it were
unconcerned about bodily injury, so pain pathways are quite necessary
in all animals!


My friend took a much more humane approach and cut off the head before
doing anything else. However, her cut left just enough of the muscle
behind that I could see the fish (i.e. its head) writhing for a few
minutes thereafter. I had always trusted the folk wisdom that
decapitation means instant death and loss of consciousness. Apparently
that's a myth too. This would especially be true in a cold blooded
animal, as its rate of oxygen consumption (hence, suffocation) is quite

low. The head did not die from loss of circulation or neural input. It
slowly suffocated (and almost certainly with a great deal of pain).


One thing we did that helped was to "cold-anesthetize" the fish before
killing them. This was very easy: We dumped ice in the fish bucket.
Because the fish are cold blooded, loss of body heat is not distressing

to them, at least in the same sense as it would be to a bird or mammal.

There is no thermal setpoint to fight. As the fish cools off, its
metabolism slows too, entering into what would be very similar to a
hibernation state for a mammal. When it stops moving, it's effectively
"anesthetized." In this state, it can be cleaned rather painlessly.
Ultimately, though, there is a suffocation issue for the head. When it
warms back up, it becomes metabolically active again. However, there is

no question that there would very little pain this way.


Commercially, fish are flung out of the water and allowed to suffocate
in the air. While this may seem a difficult fate, it is perhaps a more
humane one. If suffocation is inevitable, either before or after
decapitation, then why not suffocate before decapitation and not have
to endure the pain of being scaled and cut up? Some fishermen have a
practice of pulling their catch out of the water and throwing it
directly into an ice chest. This is a method of cold anesthesia, which
when combined with suffocation, is probably more humane still. Perhaps
the ultimate technique in humane fishing would be to throw the catch
into a bucket of ice water, where it can still breathe, but where it
will quickly be anesthetized. Then throw it on ice, where it will
suffocate slowly during a prolonged state of anesthesia.


It is invitable that we must kill something to live, whether it is a
cow or a chicken or a fish or a vegetable. These are all life forms
that have their own right to life, just like ours. Inevitably, we can't

all live, so one creature must inevitably be consumed by another. None
of us should have any problem with that. However, there is no reason,
as smart as we are, that we cannot be merciful in the way we gather our

food. That is the least we can do for the creatures that lose their
lives to sustain ours.


Peace,
Sarah Fox, Ph.D.

  #2  
Old November 16th, 2005, 03:43 PM
riverman
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Default Most Humane Way to Clean Fish

"Commercially, fish are flung out of the water and allowed to suffocate

in the air. While this may seem a difficult fate, it is perhaps a more
humane one. If suffocation is inevitable, either before or after
decapitation, then why not suffocate before decapitation and not have
to endure the pain of being scaled and cut up?"

I wonder how much pain a fish feels from scaling and being cut up, if
it were decapitated first. Hmph.

Besides, whoever wrote this article has evidently never heard of a
'priest'.

--riverman

  #3  
Old November 16th, 2005, 04:50 PM posted to rec.outdoors.fishing.fly
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Default Most Humane Way to Clean Fish

Hmm yeah it seems ignorant as well as silly. The fact that a muscle
continues to writhe after decapitation shows nothing about pain. It
shows that muscles continue to writhe (in mammels as well as fish)
after death - a phenomenon that's been noted for many centuries.

I do get upset, though, with some fishermen who are needlessly cruel to
fish.

L

  #4  
Old November 16th, 2005, 05:03 PM posted to rec.outdoors.fishing.fly
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Default Most Humane Way to Clean Fish


"lazarus" wrote in message
oups.com...
Hmm yeah it seems ignorant as well as silly. The fact that a muscle
continues to writhe after decapitation shows nothing about pain. It
shows that muscles continue to writhe (in mammels as well as fish)
after death - a phenomenon that's been noted for many centuries.

I do get upset, though, with some fishermen who are needlessly cruel to
fish.


If fish DON'T feel pain, it's difficult to see how anything done to them can
be construed as cruel; no one has any real reason to be upset by anything
done to them. If they DO, then ALL recreational angling is needlessly
cruel.

Problems, carefully thought through and clearly stated, generally turn out
to be fairly simple. Solutions are typically harder to find......and then
there's the whole implementation mess.

Wolfgang



  #5  
Old November 17th, 2005, 01:49 AM posted to rec.outdoors.fishing.fly
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Default Most Humane Way to Clean Fish

riverman wrote:

I wonder how much pain a fish feels from scaling and being cut up, if
it were decapitated first. Hmph.


lazarus wrote:
Hmm yeah it seems ignorant as well as silly. The fact that a muscle
continues to writhe after decapitation shows nothing about pain. It
shows that muscles continue to writhe (in mammels as well as fish)
after death - a phenomenon that's been noted for many centuries.


I think she meant that since cold blooded animals require less oxygen,
the blood supplied by the muscle that's left attached to the head might
keep them alive to feel the pain of being decapitated, and then they
would experience suffocation, so it's better to have them die of
suffocation before decapitating them. Personally, I'd prefer to
decapitate them before the suffocated, and try not to leave much muscle
or anything behind the head. That might cause them to suffocate faster.
But I definately wouldn't scale the body with the head attached if the
fish was alive, and I'd use the "cold-anesthetize" method.

I also heard that some people hit the fish in the head to knock it out.
I wish SOME kind of humane treatment for fish was regulated. It's
possible that fish suffer about as much as a human would under the same
conditions. But I have a feeling that even if we KNEW that for sure,
people would think it's somehow not as bad because they're just fish.
To me, the main difference is that a fish's faimily probably would
mourn for them as much as a human's family would mourn for a human, but
it's the possible physical pain that bothers me.

Wolfgang wrote:

If fish DON'T feel pain, it's difficult to see how anything done to them can
be construed as cruel; no one has any real reason to be upset by anything
done to them. If they DO, then ALL recreational angling is needlessly
cruel.


I heard the roof of a fish's mouth doesn't have enough nerves to feel
pain from a hook, but I wouldn't recreational fish anyway. I used to
fish a little as a kid, and I was the complete opposite of how I am
now. I once caught a snapper and people on the peir told me to throw it
back if I won't be eating it, but I wanted to see it swim in circles in
my bucket. And I once caught an eel and people were trying to buy it
from me so they could eat it, and they kept raising their price, but I
wanted to bring it home just to show my father. I guess I'm trying to
make up for it by saving their great grandkids.

  #6  
Old November 17th, 2005, 02:01 AM posted to rec.outdoors.fishing.fly
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Default Most Humane Way to Clean Fish


wrote

. I guess I'm trying to
make up for it by saving their great grandkids.


my guess is that you are more ****ed up than a soup sandwich.

wayno



  #7  
Old November 17th, 2005, 02:23 AM posted to rec.outdoors.fishing.fly
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Default Most Humane Way to Clean Fish


Wayne Harrison wrote:
wrote

. I guess I'm trying to
make up for it by saving their great grandkids.


my guess is that you are more ****ed up than a soup sandwich.

wayno


How about an explanation? I'm talking about possibly preventing
thousands of cases of horrible pain and suffering per day, and that's
the best response you have?

  #8  
Old November 17th, 2005, 02:34 AM posted to rec.outdoors.fishing.fly
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Default Most Humane Way to Clean Fish


wrote in message
oups.com...

Wayne Harrison wrote:
wrote

. I guess I'm trying to
make up for it by saving their great grandkids.


my guess is that you are more ****ed up than a soup sandwich.

wayno


How about an explanation? I'm talking about possibly preventing
thousands of cases of horrible pain and suffering per day, and that's
the best response you have?


well, barry, i don't know what to say. that you are so concerned about
the pain of fish in times that thousands of human beings are dying, day by
day, in iraq, and other places, simply overwhelms my ability to relate to
you, on a rational level.

what do you think about the pain that fish feel when they are eaten by
other fish, or birds, or otters, or old age, for that matter? i suggest
that you grab a syringe full of demerol, and patrol the streams in your
locality, searching for fish in pain. inject those who you conclude are in
pain, and move on, comforted by your unctious efforts.

wayno



  #10  
Old November 17th, 2005, 03:45 AM posted to rec.outdoors.fishing.fly
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Default Most Humane Way to Clean Fish

Wayne Harrison wrote:

that you are so concerned about
the pain of fish in times that thousands of human beings are dying, day by
day, in iraq, and other places, simply overwhelms my ability to relate to
you, on a rational level.


I think the safe answer would be for me to just say that it's easy to
prevent some of the suffering of fish by telling people the relatively
simple way to prevent, or at least reduce the suffering, or by creating
the appropriate regulations. It's worth a shot anyway. It's pretty fast
cheap to just post a message here, and I think it's worth the trouble
even if you can't compare the fish problem to the human problem. An
equivalent effort in time and money to help people in Iraq, by myself
or by the government, wouldn't do very much.

But screw the "safe" answer. One reason it bothers me so much is that I
have no reason to believe that the daily suffering of fish is any less
than the daily suffering of people.

what do you think about the pain that fish feel when they are eaten by
other fish, or birds, or otters, or old age, for that matter?


I think about that too, and it's pretty damn horrible (I usually think
of more furry creatures though). I heard about some animal that's
something like 90% likely to die by a predator attack, and it's not
always a quick kill from a bite to the neck. Because of that, I'm not
an animal conservationist, or whatever they're called. I'd rather not
be born if I knew I was likely to die like that. Maybe it's better to
suffocate on a boat, or die by a hunter, or maybe it's all the same,
but the less painful it is, the better.

i suggest that you grab a syringe full of demerol, and patrol the streams in your
locality, searching for fish in pain. inject those who you conclude are in
pain, and move on, comforted by your unctious efforts.


I'll take the blame for not doing that if everyone else takes the blame
for not even cleaning their own catch humanely.

 




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