The sawfish, included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 enacted to save them from exploitation, have been sighted off the Indian coast less than 10 times in over a decade and they appear to be more threatened than tigers and elephants, say marine scientists as the world observed the first Sawfish Day.
- Most endangered fish species in India. Anecdotal evidence suggested they were once common along the Indian coast.
- However, an experienced fisherman from Mumbai, Seshnath Koli, was cited as saying that sawfish, considered “sacred”, were rarely seen over the last few decades.
- There are only five species of the sawfish ever identified — dwarf sawfish, knifetooth sawfish, smalltooth sawfish, largetooth sawfish and green sawfish.
- Sawfish are elasmobranchs, meaning their skeleton is made of cartilage.
- They are closely related to sharks and have shark-shaped bodies and, hence, are also called flat sharks.
The CMFRI statement said: “The sawfish family has been assessed either ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Global Red List, considering their threatened status, high extinction risk and observed population decline.”