1800

Green Sawfish

Australia

1800

Pristis zijsron

Endangered

  • High demand for shark fins and meat in world trade markets
  • Entanglement in fishing nets or accidental killing
  • Used for sports tournaments

The Green Sawfish, a sawfish species living in tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific, is considered as the largest creature from the carpenter shark family, growing more than 7 metres in length. It belongs to the Elasmobranchii subclass of cartilaginous fish characterised as having a skeleton not made of bones but of cartilage.

This critically endangered sawfish species – which goes by its many other names including Olive Sawfish, Narrowsnout Sawfish, and Longcomb Sawfish – has elongated toothed saws called rostra that accounts for almost one third of its total length. Sexual maturity is reached at nine years of age and female individuals can have as much as 12 pups. It has a peculiar reproductive system known as yolk-sac viviparity wherein the embryos inside the womb are being nourished by the mother’s egg yolks.

Though the Green Sawfish have few natural enemies (except for large sharks and crocodiles), its numbers have declined drastically due to overfishing, both legally and illegally. Its fins and meat command an attractive price for restaurant businesses which is why it is constantly hunted to the point of extinction. Those that become entangled in fishing nets are left to die or are brought onto the boat to be killed right away after amputating its rostra as trophies or curios.

While some countries (such as Australia, India, and South Africa) provide a level of protection for this endangered species, there are no strict fishing regulations being implemented in many other territories where it roams. Professional sports anglers even use the Green Sawfish for fishing tournaments.