This project will develop and publish a Sawfish Conservation Strategy. This Strategy will be a summary of all the available information on sawfish around the world. It will include details of where sawfish historic and current distributions and the specific threats that sawfish face in each location. Most importantly, the plan will include recommendations of important sawfish research, education and conservation activities that we will then target for future funding proposals.
Why this is important:
Historically, sawfishes were widespread in shallow tropical and subtropical coastal waters and estuaries. Now, some sawfishes are locally and regionally extinct from large parts of their former range. Sawfishes are easily entangled in fishing nets by their long, toothed ‘saw’; they are also taken on hooks in both commercial and recreational fisheries as bycatch.
The IUCN Shark Specialist Group is responsible for the Red List Assessment of over 1100 chondrichthyan fishes. The recently completed Global Red List Assessment identified a total of 191 species as threatened, facing an elevated risk of extinction. The assessment also identified a small number of families deserving the highest priority for conservation action. The sawfish (family Pristidae) fall into this highest priority category because all 7 species are Critically Endangered. There is a very real risk that this ecologically unique and evolutionarily distinct lineage will vanish in our lifetime.
Historically, sawfishes were widespread in shallow tropical and subtropical coastal waters and estuaries. Now, their distribution is severely fragmented and some sawfishes are locally and regionally extinct from large parts of their former range. Sawfishes are easily entangled in fishing nets by their long, toothed rostrum; they are also taken on hooks in both commercial and recreational fisheries as utilized incidental bycatch. All species live only within heavily fished coastal waters. They have little depth refuge from the increasing reach of fisheries and bycatch in nearshore fisheries: this is the biggest threat to their survival. In addition to fishing mortality, habitat degradation, modification, and pollution also pose significant threats to the viability of remaining sawfish populations. Furthermore, sawfish are popular species for larger public aquariums. Due to the growth in large aquariums there appears to be an increasing interest in sawfish for these displays.
Sawfish are currently not bred in captivity; legally only one Australian species can supply this demand, due to restrictions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). One of the tasks of IUCN Specialist Groups is to develop Species Strategies for those species that would benefit from immediate conservation action. Sawfish are clearly in need of urgent help.
Aims and Objectives
Aim: The development and publication of a Sawfish Conservation Strategy.
- Investigate the historic and current distribution, status, and threats to all sawfish species
- Identify funding and conservation priorities for sawfish
- Highlight potential new conservation tools for the protection of sawfish
- Generate clear, prioritized recommendations for meaningful research, education and conservation action
- Raise awareness among policy makers, the media and the public
We are very pleased to be able to provide videos of a number of the presentations from the Global Sawfish Conservation Strategy Workshop held earlier this year. These presentations detail various aspects of the biology, status and cultural value of…
The IUCN Shark Specialist Group has just returned from the IUCN world Conservation Congress, Jeju Island, Korea. This meeting happens every 4 years and is an opportunity for people from all streams of conservation to get together and create new…
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United States government, in partnership with the IUCN Shark Specialist Group were very pleased with the diverse range of participants that attended our ‘Securing a Safe Future for Sawfishes’ Side…
The Global Sawfish Conservation Strategy project has been in development for over one year and our key objective has been to hold a workshop with the goal of developing the details of the Conservation Strategy - the Save Our Seas…
With just over two months to go until the Sawfish Global Conservation Strategy Workshop in London, we’d like to tell you more about what will be happening during the workshop. Day 1 will involve presentations from at least 10 of…