Have you seen a sawfish?


Have you received a questionnaire?

  • Please be advised that the questionnaires were sent out by the Gulf Fishermen Association, we do not know who received them!
  • These questionnaires were developed specifically for fishers in FNQ. We are using fish measurements in feet as this is what fishers are using (the ones we worked with). Feel free to respond in cm if that’s easier. 
  • The term ‘freshwater’ can refer to the tidal zone of a river in the wet season. If you feel uncomfortable with this term, replace it with tidal / non-tidal.
  • The questionnaire was developed after Barbara spoke with fishers at the Annual Meeting of the Gulf Fishermen Association in October 2017. As explained during the meeting, the lack of SOCI data for sawfish can currently be interpreted in three ways: (1) Fishers are underreporting / fabricating data, (2) Sawfish have disappeared, or (3) Fishers have found ways to prevent sawfish captures. You can use the questionnaire to share your facts and also let us know how management can be improved.
  • Many fishers have voiced concerns to Barbara about reporting interactions with endangered species, as they are worried that these reports can close their fishery down. For us, the questionnaire is the first step to a collaboration. We care about fresh caught, local fish (not imported), sustainable fisheries and healthy sawfish populations. The next step will be that we invite you to participate in a sawfish workshop in October. We know that some of you implement good methods to release sawfish, and we want to hear them, so all fishers can use these methods. 

Best regards,



At Sharks And Rays Australia we believe that long-term conservation goals can only be achieved if they are based on sound science, public outreach and working with local stakeholders. SARA was formed with the aim to not just produce science in the ‘ivory tower’ but to involve the general public in our sawfish and shark research expeditions.

SARA is based in the city of Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia. Cairns is often referred to as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Well over hundred thousand people flock to the Great Barrier Reef from here every year, to experience the largest reef ecosystem in the world. But Cairns is also the last big city on the way north to the remote regions of the Cape York Peninsula. The landscapes of Cape York are ancient, sparsely inhabited and highly variable due to the alternating dry and wet seasons.

Not many people are aware of the elasmobranch inhabitants, the sharks and rays that are present in the vast ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef and also the river systems and coast lines of the Cape York Peninsula. Particularly sawfish are often forgotten even though Northern Australia is of vital importance to their existence. For one species of sawfish, the rivers in Northern Australia may actually be their last retreat.

The area where we run expeditions is 3/4 of the size of Germany, but only inhabited by 28,000 people. For comparison, Germany had close to 83 million inhabitants in 2016.  For more information on our research and on how to get involved please see here or find us on social media!