|Scientific Name:||Pristis clavata|
|Species Authority:||Garman, 1906|
|Taxonomic Notes:||The genus Pristis is taxonomically chaotic with uncertainty regarding the true number of valid species (Compagno and Cook 1995a). The practical difficulties associated with resolving these taxonomic issues are acute, since it is extremely difficult to obtain specimens or tissue samples from these increasingly rare species for taxonomic research. This species may possibly have been misidentified as Pristis pectinata, whose distribution in the Indo-Pacific is uncertain.|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Critically Endangered A2bcd+3cd+4bcd ver 3.1|
|Assessor/s:||Cook, S.F., Compagno, L.J.V. & Last, P.R.|
|Reviewer/s:||Valenti, S.V., Gibson, C. & participants of the regional Shark Specialist Group workshops (Shark Red List Authority)|
This relatively small sawfish may be restricted to the tropical coasts and estuaries of north and north-western Australia, or more widely distributed through the Indo-Pacific. Australian populations have declined significantly as a result of bycatch in commercial gillnet and trawl fisheries throughout this limited range and this bycatch continues, in commercial and recreational fisheries. If this sawfish also occurs outside Australian waters, these areas are fished even more intensively and populations there are likely to be nearing extirpation.
|Range Description:||Confirmed from tropical coastal and estuarine habitats in Northern and Northwestern Australia. Other records unconfirmed, but it may occur or have occurred more widely in adjacent Indo-Pacific areas.|
Native:Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia)
|FAO Marine Fishing Areas:||
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – western central
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
|Population:||No information is available on range or populations outside Australia, but if this species occurs outside Australian waters, it is likely to be nearing extirpation there. Populations have been significantly reduced in Australia, as a result of bycatch in various commercial and recreational fisheries (Pogonoski et al. 2002). Fishing pressure continues and these declines are, therefore, also likely to continue.|
|Habitat and Ecology:||Coastal and estuarine habitats in tropical Australia, particularly over mudflats in the Gulf of Carpentaria (Pogonoski et al. 2002). It occurs some distance upriver, almost into freshwater (Last and Stevens 1994).|
The principal threat to all sawfishes is fisheries, both targeted and bycatch, commercial and subsistence. Their morphology, particularly the long tooth-studded saw, makes them extraordinarily vulnerable to entanglement in any sort of net gear, including primitive fishing technology, and regardless of population size (which was probably always fairly small). When sawfish are taken in bycatch, they are often retained (particularly in areas where there is no legal protection) because of the very high value of their products. The meat of this species is likely to be good eating (Last and Stevens 1994). Pogonoski et al. (2002) noted that sawfish fins were valued at up to A$250/kg dried weight in Asian markets. Rostral saws can also be valuable in international trade, particularly for large specimens from other species). These species are also targeted opportunistically, for the same reasons.
This species is taken as bycatch in commercial and recreational fisheries (particularly gill nets and trawls, possibly also fish traps) throughout its limited confirmed range in northern and north-western Australia. Populations have been significantly reduced in this area, where sawfish have been identified as the species least likely to be subject to sustainable levels of bycatch (Stobutski et al. 2000). Bycatch of members of the family Pristidae (four or five Australian species, including P. clavata, combined) has been recorded in commercial catch and effort logbooks for a targeted shark fishery in northern Australia. Reported catches have declined steeply during the past decade (4,944 kg in 1994/95, 985 kg in 1995/96, 1,604 kg in 1996/97, 139 kg in 1997/98, 230 kg in 1998/99) (Pognoski et al. 2002, NTDPIF 2000).
There is increasing demand for live sawfish to put on display in public aquaria, with most exports for this purpose currently coming from Australia. The mortality rates associated with securing sawfishes for this use is unknown.
This species? known distribution could extend outside Australia, but these areas are far more intensively fished and it is, therefore, likely to be nearing extirpation elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific. In this case, the global population of this species will have declined to significantly less than 80% of its former levels 30 to 50 years ago. Even in Australia, where bycatch pressures are less acute, population declines are likely to continue, particularly in the absence of legal protection for this species.
Pristis clavata was assessed as Endangered by the Australian Society for Fish Biology (ASFB) (Daley et al. 2002, Pognoski et al. 2000). This species possibly occurs within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area, Queensland, towards the south-eastern edge of its range.
Pogonoski et al. 2002 recommended listing this species as a threatened species under Australia?s Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC).
In January 2006, eBay announced it would ban the sale of sawfish parts and products on their on-line auction site. This measure will require vigilant monitoring within eBay with the help of outside experts.
All species of Pristidae have been listed under Appendix I of CITES (2007), except Pristis microdon which is listed under Appendix II.
|Citation:||Cook, S.F., Compagno, L.J.V. & Last, P.R. 2006. Pristis clavata. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 May 2013.|
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