Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Commentary Type

Open Commentary


Brian Key, Why fish do not feel pain


Whether fish feel pain is a hot political topic. The consequences of our denial are huge given the billions of fish that are slaughtered annually for human consumption. The economic costs of changing our commercial fishery harvest practices are also likely to be great. Key outlines a structure-function analogy of pain in humans, tries to force that template on the rest of the vertebrate kingdom, and fails. His target article has so far elicited 34 commentaries from scientific experts from a broad range of disciplines; only three of these support his position. The broad consensus from the scientific community is that fish most likely feel pain and it is time governments display courage enough to act.

Author Biography

Culum Brown CulumBrown@yahoo.com studies the behavioural ecology of fishes with a special interest in learning and memory. He is Associate Professor of vertebrate evolution at Macquarie University, Co-Editor of the volume Fish Cognition and Behavior, and Editor for Animal Behaviour of the Journal of Fish Biology. https://sites.google.com/site/culumbrown/