Anoxypristis cuspidata



Narrow sawfishes (Anoxypristis cuspidata) is classified as Endangered by the IUCN's Red List, primarily due to exploitation, by-catch and, to a lesser extent, habitat loss and degradation. This species was historically a relatively common large-bodied sawfish of the Indo-Pacific Region. It is found in inshore and estuarine environments to offshore habitats of up to 100 metres. Narrow sawfishes were historically found in 22 countries, but is now classified as Presence Uncertain in 12, and Possibly Extinct in Viet Nam, marking an overall 30% decline in the species' geographic range size. 

A. cuspidata has, relative to other sawfishes, a younger age at maturaity (3 years) and a higher probability of giving birth annually. Sawfishes most obvious characteristic is the long flattened snout (or saw), edged along both sides with large teeth. The saw may be used to stir prey up from the seabed and to attack mid water shoals of fishes, stun and kill it.
Like other sawfishes, this species is extremely susceptible to capture in gillnets and demersal trawl nets. The species has been affected by commercial net and trawl fisheries, which operate in inshore areas of its range, reductions in habitat quality and coastal development, the impacts of which have cumulatively led to population decline. Despite a lack of quantitative data to support declines, current information indicates that Narrow sawfish across its Indo-West Pacific range are considerably more rare than historically recorded. Declines of between 50 and 70% over three generation lengths (~18 years) are suspected and have primarily been attributed to ongoing capture in commercial net and trawl fisheries, with the Narrow sawfish being particularly susceptible given it has poor post-release survival.
All sawfish populations have undergone serious declines, demonstrated by a significant reduction in captures or complete disappearance from their original range. These declines are attributed to depletion by target, bycatch, artisanal and recreational fisheries, with continued bycatch from seriously depleted populations continuing to drive the remnants of the population down long after commercial target fishing has become economically unviable and ceased. The shallow coastal, brackish and freshwater habitats of sawfishes are often associated with high levels of human activity, which may result in degradation or loss of habitat through, for example, pollution, prey depletion, and coastal or riverine developments, including mangrove clearance, canal development and construction of seawalls. 

Sawfishes that require particular habitats at different stages of their life history (e.g. rivers, lakes, estuaries or areas of mangroves) are threatened by coastal and riverine developments that prevent them from migrating to these critical habitats (and sawfishes are amphidromous, moving between the sea and estuarine and freshwater habitats).

Sawfishes are particularly vulnerable as many range states have not yet adopted measures to address the threat of unsustainable exploitation. CMS Appendix I and II listings would yield significant benefits for one of the most threatened groups of chondrichthyan fishes by increasing cooperation and collaboration among these range states.

Assessment information
CMS InstrumentsCMS, Sharks (2016)
IUCN StatusEndangered
Date of entry in Appendix I2014
Date of entry in Appendix II2014
Geographic range
Countries Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam
Common names
EnglishNarrow Sawfish
Scientific name Anoxypristis cuspidata
Author(D'Anastasis 2013)
Standard referenceEschmeyer, W.N. (1990). Catalogue of the Genera of Recent Fishes. California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California.

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