The National Marine Fisheries Service (Service) recently published (pdf) its final rule listing five species of sawfish as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The final rule contains the Service’s determination that the narrow sawfish (Anoxypristis cuspidate), dwarf sawfish (Pristis clavata), largetooth sawfish (collectively, Pristis pristis), green sawfish (Pristis zijsron) and the non-U.S. distinct population segment (DPS) of smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) are endangered species under the ESA. The Service determined that these five species are all in danger of extinction throughout all of their ranges due to: (1) present or threatened destruction, modification or curtailment of habitat; (2) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (3) inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and (4) other natural or manmade factors affecting their continued existence, and low abundance, lack of connectivity, and genetic diversity.
WildEarth Guardians submitted a petition in 2010 that requested the Service list six sawfish species, including the five species subject to this final rule, as endangered under the ESA. In its 90-day finding for that petition, the Service found that protection may be warranted for these five species, but that protection was not warranted for a sixth species of sawfish.
The Service did not designate critical habitat for the species because the geographical areas that they occupy are entirely outside of U.S. jurisdiction. The Service has not identified any unoccupied areas within U.S. jurisdiction that are essential to the conservation of any of the five species.