Fishes even recognize themselves and others. They also cooperate with one another and show signs of Machiavellian intelligence such as cooperation and reconciliation. They build complex structures, are capable of using tools and use the same methods for keeping track of quantities as humans do, the study noted.

"The extensive evidence of fish behavioural and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate," added Brown, who reviewed bony fish for the study.

The more than 32,000 known species of fish far outweigh the diversity of all other vertebrates combined but very little public concern - which is so important to inform policy - is ever noted about fish welfare issues, the researcher contended.

The study appeared in the journal Animal Cognition.


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