What is it about?

Sawfish are among the world’s most threatened and understudied marine fishes. There are few studies on sawfish from outside Australian and USA waters - a significant knowledge gap considering their circumtropical distribution and migratory nature. This paper presents the first assessment of sawfish exploitation and status in Bangladesh: a country that is subject to extensive fishing efforts, and home to the largest mangrove forest on Earth – an ecosystem that provides critical nursery habitat for juvenile sawfish.

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Why is it important?

A countrywide rapid assessment was undertaken between December 2011 and November 2012, using an interdisciplinary methodology. In total, 203 questionnaire surveys were conducted with fishers and traders in order to understand the extent of decline, potential drivers of declines, and local perceptions and uses of sawfish. Eighteen rostra were documented from museum archives and private collections, and unpublished data were sourced. We confirm that two sawfish species, Pristis pristis and Anoxypristis cuspidata are present in Bangladesh. General population declines were revealed. The average annual sawfish encounter rate (observations and catches) declined from 3.7 individuals using lifetime recall data (~22-year), to 1.5 using 5-year recall data, and further to 0.7 using 1-year recall data. We propose that a local education and outreach programme should be carried out to seek behavioural changes – primarily to release live sawfish.

Perspectives

This study governs the sawfish exploitation in Bangladesh. Using the nature of exploitation and recommended measures outlined in this study we hope to secure a safe environment for the survival of our endangered fauna, the majestic sawfish.

Mr Md Anwar Hossain
University of Melbourne

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This page is a summary of: Sawfish exploitation and status in Bangladesh, Aquatic Conservation Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, May 2014, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/aqc.2466.
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