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Home > Culture and Society

Think of the fish

8 October 2004

New findings concerning the intelligence of fish are causing ripples in Whitehall where government big-wigs are said to be considering moves to top the furore over the fox-murder ban with a total ban on angling.

The shock news that fish are actually fin-flapping brainiacs was dredged up in a seemingly ludicrous study carried out by Dr Theresa Burt de Perera at Oxford University. She told the Daily Telegraph, 'The public perception of them is that they are pea-brained numbskulls that can't remember things for more than a few seconds.' Telegraph readers nodded knowingly. 'We're now finding that they are very capable of learning and remembering, and possess a range of cognitive skills that would surprise many people.' Gadzooks!

But how are they finding this? How exactly do you test the intelligence of a fish? Well, there are a number of ways. You can make it watch reality TV for one, and monitor the expression on its face as Rebecca Loos masturbates a wild boar and Stan Collymore pants in the background. Alternatively, you can build it an obstacle course, and observe how it builds a 'mental map' of its surroundings. This was the method chosen, and the feat observed by Dr Burt de Perera. 'A feat that defeats hamsters,' the Telegraph gushed. Surely that should've been *even* hamsters.

Meanwhile at the University of Edinburgh, thanks to extensive interviews with an Australian crimson spotted rainbowfish, Dr Culum Brown has discovered that this creature is capable of remembering tank-layouts for as long as 11 months. 'This,' we are informed, 'is equivalent to a human recalling a lesson learnt 40 years ago.' And God only knows what that is in Dog Years.

The fear of course, is that animal-lovers (such as Ms Loos perhaps) will seize this opportunity to put an end to the quotidian barbarity of angling. Dawn Carr, the director of PETA, has already made this valuable contribution. 'This research moves the debate along, by showing that fish aren't just swimming vegetables.' Silly woman. They're not swimming vegetables at all. They're meat. She goes on: 'The more we find out about fish, the less likely people are to feel comfortable about impaling them on a hook for fun.' No, no, no, no. Not so. This woman clearly knows nothing of human nature. If anglers wanted vegetables, they'd be gardeners. And neither do they do it for fun. Like those fox- hunting outlaws before them, they do it for the thrill of the chase. It's man against nature, in a vicious one-sided battle to the death.

Bloodthirsty Rodney Coldron of the National Federation of Anglers knows this only too well. 'Their intelligence just adds to the interest,' he said. 'It would be awful if people were only catching fish that were stupid. I think [the news that fish are erudite and witty] might attract more people to fishing.'

We can but dream. They are after all, vermin. It's only a pity they don't put up more of a fight, and maybe scream a bit when we bash their pointless little heads in on a rock. Memories and all.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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