Pristis clavata

A record number of migratory sharks and rays were listed for global protection at the CMS COP11, held in Quito, Ecuador in 2014.  But, what comes next? 

10 Aug 2015


The Dwarf Sawfish (Pristis clavata) is has a historic range of East Indo-West Pacific countries. Due to exploitation, bycatch and habitat loss, however, this species is now possibly extinct across its range with the exception of the Australian population and is listed as an Endangered species.

Declines in population of 50-80% are inferred from capture in continuing commercial fisheries, with the Dwarf sawfish particularly susceptible given its restricted inshore occurrence and relatively limited global range. 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 have slightly flattened fairly shark-like body, with this species reaching at least 3 m in length. Like other sharklike rays, the gill slits are located on the underside of a flattened head and their 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. All sawfishes are ovoviviparous, giving birth to very large live young

Despire some protections offered from the Australian government, populations have shown no signs of an increase. 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, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Réunion (France)
Common names
EnglishDwarf Sawfish
Scientific name Pristis clavata
Author(Kyne 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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