Pristis pristis

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


Recently reclassified to include several other groups of sawfish, the Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis pristis) is circumtropical. While previously widespread in tropical to warm temperate shallow, nearshore marine habitats, estuaries, large rivers and some lakes, it is now severely fragmented. This species also no longer occurs in Europe or the Mediterranean and may be close to extinction in West Africa. Overall, a population reduction of over 80% since the 1960s is inferred, despite some range state protections. It is now listed globally as Critically Endangered.

Pristis pristis is thought to migrate regularly between marine and freshwater habitats, for example, recorded over 1,300 km upstream from the mouth of the Amazon River and in Lake Nicaragua. These migrations patterns are generally unknown, but may be associated with breeding activity and hence seasonal in nature. Like other sawfishes, this species is extremely susceptible to capture in gillnets and demersal trawl nets but must also confront threats to habitat change in freshwater areas. 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.

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 the many range states of this species.


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, Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville), Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa), Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, French Guiana (France), Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, India, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Liberia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Suriname, Thailand, Togo, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela
Common names
EnglishLargetooth Sawfish
Scientific name Pristis pristis
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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