The IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group
Shark News 12: November 1998
Recent Sawfish Records
With sightings of sawfish, Pristis and Anoxypristis species, becoming increasingly scarce,
these photographs are unusual recent records. They also illustrate graphically the main
reason for the decline in this group of elasmobranchs - bycatch in other fisheries, possibly
exacerbated by the extremely high value of sawfish products in trade.
Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico
This photograph of Pristis perotteti was first published in the Newspaper Novedades of Quintana Roo, México on 17
August 1997, a few days after the sawfish was
landed by artisanal fishermen. It was
reported because sightings are now so
very rare in the area (fishermen say that they
were very abundant in coastal waters 30 years
ago). Unfortunately no researchers examined
the specimen, but the fishermen said it was
5.4 m TL and 800 kg, and had two uteri with about 80 eggs.
Photo: Ovidio López Méndez.
This information was provided by fisheries biologist Leonardo Castillo-Géniz, who has never seen a sawfish despite 15 years working with artisanal fishermen in the region. For more information contact him at Instituto Nacional de la Pesca, Pitágoras No. 1320, 4º Piso, Col. Santa Cruz Atoyac, Distrito Federal, C.P. 03310, México. Fax: (+5) 604 4887. Email: email@example.com
East Malaysia (Borneo)
This is a copy of a black and
white photograph seen by Scott
Mycock and Rachel Cavanagh
in a Chinese shop in Sarawak
this year. The sawfish (probably
Pristis microdon) was caught a
few years ago in the sea near
Sibu, a town on the Batang
Other photographs, taken by
Mycock in a Chinese shop in
Sandakan, Sabah, show two
sawfish tail fins, the larger about
90 cm long. While sawfish
products, including saws, on
display in Chinese shops in Sabah
are usually marked 'not for sale',
this single fin was clearly marked
with a price: RM 8,888. Eighteen
months ago this would have been equivalent to about US$3,000,
but at today's exchange rate, the fin would cost about US$2,300.
Such a high value product is likely destined for international trade.