Pristis pectinata

Migratory species are likely to be among the most vulnerable to plastic pollution according to a new study released today by the Secretariat of the UN's Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The study focused for the first time on the impacts that plastic pollution has on animals that live on land and in freshwater environments, in the Asia-Pacific region. The study included case studies on the Ganges and Mekong river basins, which together contribute an estimated 200,000 tons of plastic pollution to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean every year.

30 Aug 2021


The Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) is a wide-ranging, but highly fragmented species of sawfish. It is primarily native to the Gulf of Mexico, South American and West African coastal regions. Fishing and habitat modification have, based on fish landing data, surveys and observations, inferred a reduction in population of greater then 95% since the 1960s. Due to these continuing threats, this species is listed as Critically Endangered

The Smalltooth sawfish population appears to have stopped declining in some geographic ranges due to strong national legislation by some range states, yet exact figures remain unknown. The species low reproductivity rates, slow growth and late maturity indicate that populations will be slow to recover

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).

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 range states.


Assessment information
CMS InstrumentsCMS, Sharks (2016)
IUCN StatusCritically endangered
Date of entry in Appendix I2014
Date of entry in Appendix II2014
Geographic range
Countries Angola, Anguilla (UK), Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba (Netherlands), Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Benin, British Virgin Islands (UK), Cameroon, Cayman Islands (UK), Congo (Brazzaville), Cuba, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa), Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guadeloupe (France), Guinea, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Martinique (France), Montserrat (UK), Nigeria, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands (UK), United States of America, Uruguay
Common names
EnglishSmalltooth Sawfish
Scientific name Pristis pectinata
Author(Carlson et al. 2013)
Standard referenceEschmeyer, W.N. (1990). Catalogue of the Genera of Recent Fishes. California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California.

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