by Barbara Wueringer

In December 2019 I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet Dr Sally Box, Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner.

We talked about sawfish research and conservation in Queensland, and I provided her with insights into our work and our collaborations with Indigenous Rangers. The meeting went incredibly well. Colleagues from Cape York Natural Resource Management and Northern Gulf Resource Management Group were also present, and I think we got Sally excited about these magnificent animals.

I was also able to make Sally aware of how sawfish fall through the cracks when it comes to funding opportunities from the Federal and Queensland governments. Australia’s Threatened Species Recovery Strategy, for example, only mentions birds, mammals and plants. Many funding rounds that open, including the last endangered species grant round, are specifically targeting recovery actions and outcomes for terrestrial mammals and birds, thus not allowing grant applications for aquatic endangered species to be considered. Sally was very interested to hear that, as her Department is currently working on the next Threatened Species Recovery Strategy, and we hope that this will take fish into account.

At some point Sally congratulated me for how much work SARA has done with how little funding. And I would like to throw this huge THANK YOU right back at everyone who has helped us, volunteered their time, helped us fund our work, or even just came on board to discuss ideas, read drafts, and help steer SARA!

We could not do without our students, volunteers, field assistants, colleagues, rangers and interns. All these times spent sampling, driving, sweating, swearing, bonding, sitting around the fire, laughing, covered in mud, tired, longing for a hot shower, McGyvering our way through problems in remote regions are worth it.

After our meeting Sally had some very kind words for us.