Proposal 17: Pristidae spp. (Sawfish)

 / ©: Matt Garvey and Chris Gardner
Pristidae spp Sawfish
© Matt Garvey and Chris Gardner
Proposal: 17
Proponents: Kenya and United States of America
Summary of proposal: Inclusion of all species of sawfish (family Pristidae) in Appendix I, in accordance with Article II, paragraph 1 and Res. Conf. 9.24 (Rev CoP13) Annex 1 Criteria A i); v); Bi), iii), iv) and Criterion C (ii)

WWF position SUPPORT
For WWF's full position, including the rationale and further information, please see page 16 in WWF Positions CITES COP14. Download PDF (3.6 MB | 48 pages)

Why is WWF supporting this proposal?

  • Although population data are scarce, the extreme scarcity of recent sightings of some species, and historical data showing population declines, indicate that populations are small, and within the guidelines in Res. Conf. 9.24 (Rev CoP13)
  • Sawfish are very long lived and as such are particularly vulnerable to overexploitation
  • Sawfish and their parts are highly valued, and are known to be in international trade for their fins, meat, toothed rostra (snouts), and as live animals used in aquaria exhibits
  • All species of sawfish are found in international trade, and enforcement would be problematic if only selected species were included in the Appendices
  • There is some taxonomic uncertainty on the number of species, different species have certain similarities, and it is difficult to distinguish the parts of different species in trade
  • Removing the financial incentives of landing incidentally captured sawfish will reduce bycatch mortality

Sawfish quick facts

Current status: Critically Endangered 

Found in: Subtropical and tropical freshwater, marine, and coastal habitats globally

Interesting biology: Long, toothed rostrum, used to hunt for prey. There can be as many as 37 teeth on each side of the rostrum. Pristis zijsron has the longest rostrum of all species, measuring almost two metres in length.

Population status: Evidence from fishing and bycatch reports that many populations have been greatly depleted or lost from large areas of their former range

Traded as: Lived animals for public aquaria; fins for shark-fin soup; meat as food; rostral saws as curios and ceremonial weapons; rostral teeth as cockfighting spurs; flesh, rostra, skin, liver oil, and bile for traditional medicines.

Caught in: Directed fisheries, also as bycatch as their rostrum makes these species particularly prone to accidental entanglement in nets and other fishing gear

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