Fishing rights were discussed on one of America’s most popular talk shows earlier this month.
Ryuji Chua, an animal rights activist also known as Peace By Vegan, appeared on the Daily show discuss his documentary How conscious can a fish be? with host Trevor Noah.
Chua’s documentary explores the evidence that fish are “sentient beings” and challenges the stereotype that they are mindless animals.
In a clip shared on YouTube, Noah described the issue of fish consciousness as a “really interesting conversation”.
He said: “This documentary, in particular, is one where some people are shocked. They say ‘Ryuiji, you have gone too far.’ »
“You say fish can be conscious?
This question made the audience laugh, and Ryuji then replied, “Growing up, I didn’t think that. Like a lot of people, I grew up thinking fish were these dumb, oblivious animals that have a three-second memory and can’t feel pain.
“It would have been nice, forgivable, if I were in 1703. But today there is a mountain of evidence produced by years of research that suggests that fish feel, think and suffer, like dogs, cats and other animals.”
Noah asked Chua about the ethics of eating wild fish, to which he replied, “Fishing causes enormous suffering to immeasurable numbers of fish. And that’s the problem for me. And for me, a problem is a problem when there is someone who suffers.
“I’m not going to sit here and say that I feel emotionally obligated to care about fish the same way I care about dogs,” Chua continued. “I didn’t grow up around fish. I grew up with dogs.
He added: “Because they are hurting and their suffering matters to them, that’s why I’m flagging it as an issue.”
Can fish suffer?
As Chua stated, humans have always tended to think of fish as unconscious and unintelligent animals. But much of what we think about fish has been denounced by experts.
In his book Do fish feel pain?biologist Victoria Braithwaite said that “there is as much evidence that fish feel pain and suffer as there is for birds and mammals”.
Fish have a nervous system that release endorphins that relieve pain. This was considered further evidence that they are capable of feeling pain.
There have been a number of studies conducted on fish that seem to demonstrate their ability to feel pain. When a Rainbow trout had painful acid injected into their sensitive lips, they stopped eating, swayed back and forth on the floor of their tank, and rubbed their lips against the walls of the tank.
Do fish really have three-second memories?
It has also long been claimed that fish have a three-second memory, which experts in the field have denied.
Culum Brown, a fish cognition expert at Macquarie University in Australia, has previously declared“We have pretty fond memories of goldfish from the 50s and 60s…Despite what everyone thinks, they are actually very smart.”
He thinks guilt is one of the reasons the three-second memory myth persists, given that it’s so common for them to be kept as pets in small tanks.
How conscious can a fish be is available for look now on Peace By Vegan.