After 15 years of presumed extinction, Armelle is working with local communities to save the region’s remaining population of sawfishes – the world’s most endangered marine fish.
As a French marine biologist based at the oceanographic research centre in Brest, north-western France, I first focused on sharks 15 years ago, when I embarked on a project on basking shark ecology and movement patterns. I am now involved in the organisation Des Requins et des Hommes (DRDH; Sharks and Humans), which aims to bring shark conservation and human activity closer together in some of the areas that are most critical for elasmobranchs.
My interest in sawfishes developed during a year-long sailing trip in western Africa, which presented me with a unique opportunity...
To evaluate the status of the Pristidae and reverse the balance trend in the sawfish population of western Africa (CSRP area) by increasing biological knowledge and promoting self-governance.
Sawfishes are considered the most endangered elasmobranchs, listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN. Their population has been severely depleted due to habitat degradation, fisheries, bycatch and trade of by-products, such as rostra, teeth and fins. However, sawfishes are a part of the rich cultural history among the people of this region, and we aim to use public outreach and education to reconstruct the former and current distribution and abundance of sawfishes. Immediate action is required to better determine the status of the species in the region and to initiate biological studies to provide the data needed to establish management and restoration plans.
The assembled team is well-versed in outreach having already established similar reporting networks and education initiatives associated with the International Sawfish Encounter Database, International Shark Attack File, Elasmobranch National reporting programs in Europe and moreover the western Africa sub-regional plan of action for elasmobranchs (data collection framework, training sessions).
AFRICASAW has three main objectives:
Northern Australia is one of the last strongholds for largetooth sawfish and it is an important home for other endangered species too. Barbara is investigating the role of sawfish within the ecosystem and working with citizen scientists to raise awareness about this critical habitat.
Sawfishes are rapidly disappearing from our seas, so when a healthy population was discovered off Andros Island in The Bahamas, the area became a very important place. Dean aims to understand this rare community of sawfishes in order to protect them.