Sawfishes in Papua New Guinea: A preliminary investigation into their status and level of exploitation

William T. White, Sharon A. Appleyard, Peter M. Kyne, Ralph Mana

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    The status of sawfishes (family Pristidae), and indeed most sharks and rays, in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is largely unknown due to the paucity of detailed catch and observational records available, both historic and contemporary. This paper provides the first comprehensive review of the published and unpublished literature on sawfish records in PNG. It also collates information for all sawfish specimens in the holdings of museum and fisheries collections, dating back to the late 1800s. Opportunistic sampling during a shark and ray biodiversity project in PNG has resulted in contemporary records for all 4 sawfish species known to occur in the region (i.e. Anoxypristis cuspidata, Pristis clavata, P. pristis and P. zijsron) and identification of suitable habitat for the species across PNG. A review of the literature shows that declines in sawfish populations have occurred in a number of locations. Detailed surveys of the key areas highlighted in this study are urgently required to assess the current status of sawfish in PNG. This information is crucial for developing a global strategy for sawfish conservation and fisheries management, given the apparent persistence of all 4 Indo-Pacific species in PNG.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)277-291
    Number of pages15
    JournalEndangered Species Research
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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