CONTROVERSIAL research led by Dr Lynne Sneddon of Edinburgh University on whether or not fish can feel pain will not alter the Government’s enthusiastic support for angling as a sport and pastime claimed Labour MP Martin Salter who is Parliamentary adviser to Sports Minister Richard Caborn.

Mr Salter said: “The conclusions of the Edinburgh University research team are completely at odds with a recent report from Professor James Rose of the University of Wyoming which proved that fish lack the capacity in their brains to feel pain.  Scientists can argue this point until the cows come home but I have confirmed with Richard Caborn that nothing that has been published will dissuade the Government from giving both political and financial support to angling projects such as “Get Hooked on Fishing” and other schemes designed to encourage young people to take up Britain’s most popular sport.”

The Get Hooked on Fishing project in Durham is run by local police officer Mike Watson and targets young people at risk of re-offending. It has received over £70,000 in government funding via the Environment Agency, £15,000 in Lottery cash and £50,000 from the local Youth Offending Team budget.

Martin Salter and Richard Caborn have been visiting a variety of angling projects across the country over the last twelve months and are working on proposals to back the creation of new urban fisheries to provide opportunities for a new generation of young anglers.  One of the projects Stoke Angling for Everyone (SAFE) has recently received a Lottery grant of £88,000 and is regarded as an example of best practice for other areas.

Martin Salter added: “Richard Caborn is the most pro-angling Minister we have ever had as Minister for Sport and he is channelling a serious amount of money into angling.  It will take more than a few scientists to dent Richard’s enthusiasm for fishing.” 

Angling Governing organisations have also been responding to this latest report.  Dr Bruno Broughton, a well-known fish biologist and scientific advisor to the National Angling Alliance (NAA), is unconvinced by claims that fish can feel pain. 

“I doubt that it will come as much of a shock to anglers to learn that fish have an elaborate system of sensory cells around their mouths.  Nor is it a surprise that, when their lips are injected with poisons, fish respond and behave abnormally.  However, it is an entirely different matter to draw conclusions about the ability of fish to feel pain, a psychological experience for which they – literally – do not have the brains” he said.