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Critically endangered sawfish caught by fishermen in Gwadar

The fish weighed around 96 kg and it was sold for 26 thousands to the traders.

According to a report, the fish was later sold to a trader for Rs 26,000.

Sawfishes are one of the rarest group of marine animals whose population globally is under extreme threat of extinction. Three species of sawfishes i.e. Knifetooth (Anoxypristis cuspidatus), large tooth (Pristis pristis) and largecomb (Pristis zijsron) are reported from Pakistan.

However, because of overfishing and habitat degradation the population of sawfishes has decreased substantially and they are now considered to nearly be locally extinct. In the past ten years only three authentic records of their occurrence in Pakistan have been recorded.

Sawfishes are characterized by a long, narrow, flattened rostrum, or nose extension, lined with sharp transverse teeth resembling a saw, giving its name, sawfish.  There used to be a large fishery of sawfish in Pakistan before 1970, however, their population collapsed by 1980’s because of high mortality in fishing gears. Sawfishes have long life, slow growth, late maturity, and low fecundity, making them extremely vulnerable to any changes that may reduce their population. Sawfish rostrums (saws) can easily become entangled in nets and other fishing gear, making them vulnerable targets for overfishing.

The current animal was caught from Surbandar, Baluchstan and is the fourth authentic recent record of this species occurring in Pakistan. This species used to be the most dominating species of sawfish occurring in Pakistan. It inhabits coastal waters, however and sometime ascend rivers. In 1962 a large specimen of sawfish was caught at Hyderabad near Ghulam Muhammad Barrage about 170 km from the coastline.

Because of decline in sawfish populations worldwide, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed all sawfish species as ‘Critically Endangered’. Sawfish are also included in Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which prohibits any commercial trade in those species.




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