Rhynchobatus laevis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rhinopristiformes Rhinidae

Scientific Name: Rhynchobatus laevis (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
Common Name(s):
English Smoothnose Wedgefish
Rhinobatus laevis Bloch & Schneider, 1801
Taxonomic Source(s): Bloch, M.E. and Schneider, J.G. 1801. M.E. Blochii, Systema Ichthyologiae iconibus cx illustratum. Post obitum auctoris opus inchoatum absolvit, correxit, interpolavit Jo. Gottlob Schneider, Saxo. Berolini. Sumtibus Austoris Impressum et Bibliopolio Sanderiano Commissum, Berolini.
Taxonomic Notes: Has been mistaken for Rhynchobatus djiddensis (Forsskael, 1775) and R. australiae Whitley, 1939.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2bd+3bd+4bd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-10-07
Assessor(s): Compagno, L.J.V. & McAuley, R.B.
Reviewer(s): Dulvy, N.K. & Kyne, P.M.
Contributor(s): Rigby, C.L. & Kyne, P.M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Kyne, P.M., Walls, R.H.L., Simpfendorfer, C. & Chin, A.
The Smoothnose Wedgefish occurs off river mouths and shallow bays and is taken by multiple artisanal and commercial fisheries throughout its range both as a target species and as bycatch. Flesh is sold for human consumption and the fins from large animals fetch exceptionally high prices, creating a significant incentive for bycatch to be retained.

Little is known about the population status of Smoothnose Wedgefish, because of its fragmented and poorly understood distribution. Given its susceptibility to capture by multiple fishing gear types, including trawl nets, gillnets and hooks and its high value fins, it is inferred that numbers have been locally reduced by generally unregulated fishing throughout its range. Local population depletion of rhynchobatids can be inferred from Indonesia where the target gillnet fishery fleet for rhinids and rhynchobatids has declined significantly, reportedly due to declining catch rates. Therefore, globally this species is considered Vulnerable A2bd+3bd+4bd due to the past and ongoing population reduction and continued very high level of exploitation. Habitat destruction may also pose a significant threat to this species throughout much of its range.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Smoothnose Wedgefish is a wide-ranging species first described from India that was widely confused with the Western Indian Ocean R. djiddensis across its range from the Arabian Sea to the Western Pacific. The species needs to be taxonomically assessed from adequate samples from various parts of its range in order to accurately determine its distribution. Recent taxonomic study of Rhynchobatus species have resulted in improved understanding of the distribution of the Smoothnose Wedgefish and it is no longer considered to occur in East Africa and Australian waters (P. Last, CSIRO, pers. comm., 2015).
Countries occurrence:
Bangladesh; China; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Japan; Kenya; Oman; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; Sri Lanka; Tanzania, United Republic of
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):60
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Due to heavy inshore gillnet fishing, the Smoothnose Wedgefish population has probably decreased in parts of India but its population status elsewhere is unclear. Globally, shark and ray landings have declined by at least 20% since 2003, but the Indo-Pacific is amongst the regions where this decline has been more severe (Dulvy et al. 2014). Catches of sharks and rays in Southeast Asia are very high but are declining and fishers are travelling much further from port in order to increase catches (Chen 1996). Net and trawl fisheries in Indonesia (especially the Java Sea) and elsewhere are very extensive and as a result, many shark and ray species are highly exploited and stocks of most species have declined by at least an order of magnitude (Blaber et al. 2009). Batoids are heavily exploited (White and Dharmadi 2007) and datasets from as early as 1963–1972 show the considerable decline in batoids in the Gulf of Thailand (Pauly 1979). Trawl and gillnet fisheries are also moving further afield. For example, in Jakarta the gillnet fishery at Muara Baru travels to waters around Kalimantan due to the decline in local populations (W.T. White, unpubl. data). While species-specific data on long-term declines in elasmobranchs in the Southeast Asian region are lacking, declines of the Smoothnose Wedgefish in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the Indo-West Pacific are inferred given the widespread historical and continuing declines of demersal fisheries in this region (Stobutzki et al. 2006). Furthermore, the extensive loss and degradation of habitats such as coastal mangroves are another key threat to coastal and inshore species; Southeast Asia has seen an estimated 30% reduction in mangrove area since 1980 (FAO 2007, Polidoro et al. 2010).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Smoothnose Wedgefish has a coastal distribution throughout its range, generally occurring on or close to the seabed, inshore off river mouths and in shallow bays. Very little is known about the life history characteristics of this species, however, they grow to at least 147 cm total length (TL) and possibly to 200 cm TL and reproduce by lecithotrophic viviparity (Compagno and Last 1999). Further research on the biology and exploitation of this species is urgently required. A recent age and growth study of Australian rhynchobatids pooled all three species (R. australiae, R. laevis and R. palpebratus) due to the difficulties in accurate species identification in the field (White et al. 2014) (note that since R. laevis does not occur in Australian waters, this study would have consisted of samples of the other two species). Growth rate was estimated at k = 0.41 year-1 (based on a logistic growth function), though variability in growth with age is likely between the species (White et al. 2014). Maximum age of the Smoothnose Wedgefish is unknown. In the absence of information, the generation length is estimated at 7 years, based on similarity in size and growth rates to the Giant Shovelnose Ray (Glaucostegus typus) which has a generation length of 7 years (White et al. 2014).
Generation Length (years):7

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Flesh is sold for human consumption in Asia and the fins from large animals fetch exceptionally high prices.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Smoothnose Wedgefish is subject to capture in a variety of fisheries throughout its range (Compagno and Last 1999, W. White, pers. comm.). It is fished heavily by gillnet fisheries, for example, in India. Due to its similarity in both habitat and habits with the White-spotted Guitarfish (R. australiae), it is probably also vulnerable to other gear types, including trawl nets and hooks. Elasmobranch fisheries throughout this species' range are generally unregulated (Chen 1996), catches are poorly recorded (Bonfil 1994) and finning is widespread. Given this species' use of semi-enclosed and nearshore habitats, habitat destruction and pollution are thought to pose a significant threat, particularly in Southeast Asia.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Further investigation into the taxonomy, population and range, biology and ecology of the Smoothnose Wedgefish is required. Recent catch data for this species across its range is required to assess to what extent the population decline is occurring. Improved species composition data from all fisheries that take shovelnose rays and guitarfish is necessary. Management measures for this species are either limited or none existent for this species across a large part of its range.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.2. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.6. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Muddy
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.10. Marine Neritic - Estuaries
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:No
  Occur in at least one PA:Unknown
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:Not Applicable
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.2. Intentional use: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats

Bibliography [top]

Blaber, S., Dichmont, C.M., White, W.T., Buckworth, R.C., Sadiyah, L., Iskandar, B., Nurhakim, S., Pillans, R.D., Andamari, R., Dharmadi and Fahmi. 2009. Elasmobranchs in southern Indonesian fisheries: the fisheries, the status of the stocks and management options. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 19: 367–391.

Bonfil, R. 1994. Overview of world elasmobranch fisheries. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 341. FAO, Rome.

Chen, H.K. (ed.) 1996. Shark Fisheries and the Trade in Sharks and Shark Products in Southeast Asia. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia Report, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Compagno, L.J.V. and Last, P.R. 1999. Rhinidae. In: K.E. Carpenter and V.H.Niem (eds) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 3. Batoid fishes, chimaeras and bony fishes part 1 (Elopidae to Linophyrnidae), pp. 1418-1422. FAO, Rome.

Dulvy, N.K., Fowler, S.L., Musick, J.A., Cavanagh, R.D., Kyne, P.M., Harrison, L.R., Carlson, J.K., Davidson, L.N.K., Fordham, S.V., Francis, M.P., Pollock, C.M., Simpfendorfer, C.A., Burgess, G.H., Carpenter, K.E., Compagno, L.J.V., Ebert, D.A., Gibson, C., Heupel, M.R., Livingstone, S.R., Sanciangco, J.C., Stevens, J.D., Valenti, S. and White, W.T. 2014. Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and rays. eLife 3: e00590.

FAO. 2007. The World's Mangroves 1980-2005. FAO Forestry Paper 153. Forestry Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group. Specialist Group website. Available at: http://www.iucnssg.org/.

Last, P.R. and Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Second Edition. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

Pauly, D. 1979. Theory and management of tropical multispecies stocks: a review, with emphasis on the Southeast Asian demersal fisheries. ICLARM Studies and Reviews No. 1. International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management, Manila.

Polidoro, B.A., Carpenter, K.E., Collins, L., Duke, N.C., Ellison, A.M., Ellison, J.C., Farnsworth, E.J., Fernando, E.S., Kathiresan, K., Koedam, N.E., Livingstone, S.R., Miyagi, T., Moore, G.E., Nam, V.N., Ong, J.E., Primavera, J.H., Salmo III, S.G., Sanciangco, J., Sukardjo, S., Wang, Y. and Hong Yong, J.W. 2010. The loss of species: mangrove extinction risk and geographic areas of global concern. PloSONE 5: 1-10.

Stobutzki, I.C., Silvestre, G.T., Abu Talib, A., Krongprom, A., Supongpan, M., Khemakorn, P., Armada, N., and Garces, L.R. 2006. Decline of demersal coastal fisheries resources in three developing Asian countries. Fisheries Research 78: 130-142.

White, J., Simpfendorfer, C.A., Tobin, A.J. and Heupel, M.R. 2014. Age and growth parameters of shark-like batoids. Journal of Fish BIology 84: 1340-1353.

White, W.T. and Dharmadi. 2007. Species and size compositions and reproductive biology of rays (Chondrichthyes, Batoidea) caught in target and non-target fisheries in eastern Indonesia. Journal of Fish Biology 70: 1809-1837.

Citation: Compagno, L.J.V. & McAuley, R.B. 2016. Rhynchobatus laevis. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41854A68643153. . Downloaded on 22 June 2018.
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