After reading Mary Finelli’s letter “Feel for the Fish” last Sunday, I felt compelled to set the record straight. To suggest that fishing is violent and not a way for children to enjoy the outdoors is preposterous at best. Equally absurd is the mention that fish are victims that can suffer fear and pain. Ms. Finelli should know that science has proved the exact opposite.
A full explanation is too lengthy for this column; however, a brief explanation is simply that fish lack a neocortex in their brains, i.e., they do not have the brain system necessary to experience pain. Pain is a psychological experience that is separate from behavioral reaction to injurious stimuli. The experience of pain depends on functions of complex, enlarged cerebral hemispheres. A fish’s existence is brainstem-dominated, whereas in most other vertebrates, including humans, existence is cerebrally dominated. Fish do not have the brain development necessary for the psychological experience of pain or any other type of awareness; without a neocortex they do not have the neurological capacity to experience pain.
The region of the brain lacking in fish also reflects that fish are incapable of any type of fear response. Thus, the struggles of a fish don’t signify suffering when the fish is seized by an osprey, devoured alive by a bear or caught by an angler.
Millions of kids love the experience of fishing and consider it neither boring nor gross. If fishing does not appeal to Ms. Finelli, that is her choice. However, it would be wise for her to study and understand the scientific facts before writing something emotional without facts to support her comments. That is what is cruel and unjustifiable!