Shark Specialists Put Spotlight on Brazil in Strategy to Protect World’s Most Threatened Ray
Sawfish are characterized by long, toothed snouts (“rostra”). They were once found in the coastal waters and rivers of more than 78 tropical and subtropical countries. Today, all five species are classified as Endangered or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Mortality from targeted and incidental fishing is the main cause. Their rostra are easily entangled in fishing nets. Habitat destruction also poses a threat. Sawfish rostra are valued as curios and for traditional medicine in many countries, including Brazil, while individual teeth are prized as spurs for cockfighting in much of South America and the Caribbean. Sawfish fins are exceptionally valuable for shark fin soup in Asia.
Sawfish are taken incidentally in Amazon Estuary net fisheries targeting several species, including catfish destined for the US and EU. Sawfish meat is often mislabeled as shark, and rostral teeth are smuggled into neighboring countries that lack protections. The SSG is calling on government officials, scientists, and conservationists to work collaboratively and immediately toward:
The IUCN SSG Sawfish Strategy Update is available here. It reviews progress and priorities under the 2014 SSG Global Sawfish Strategy.