Shark Conservationists Announce Plan to Conserve Sawfish

Jun 05, 2014 11:37 am ET

(Adds electro-sensitive snouts in second last paragraph.)

June 5 (Bloomberg) -- the International Union for Conservation of Nature announced a strategy to save the sawfish, a ray known for its toothy snout that’s close to extinction.

The plan by the union’s Shark Specialist Group is set to intensify the fight against intentional killing of sawfish, protect their habitats and cut the number of accidental catches of the rays, which get caught in fishing gear, according to the Union, which e-mailed a statement from a meeting taking place in Durban, South Africa.

Guinea Bissau and Guinea will propose sawfish for listing in the Convention on Migratory Species, a treaty under United Nations Environment Programme, according to the Gland, Switzerland-based Union.

“This treaty offers an excellent framework for prompting national protection in many priority sawfish range states and for implementing our global strategy on a regional basis,” Sonja Fordham, the shark group’s deputy chairwoman, said in the statement.

Sawfish can measure seven meters (23 feet) and often die in fishing nets when their snouts known as rostra become entangled. The rostra are covered in electro-sensitive pores that allow them to detect movements of prey.

The fish were once found in the coastal waters of 90 countries, according to the union.