This project focuses on landscape-level integrated management solutions for supporting management of rare and listed species, using euryhaline elasmobranchs a key threatened group in Northern Australia as a test case. The new genetic techniques that will be modified and applied in this task have the potential to make it possible to assess rare and listed species more effectively and at a radically reduced cost. The management options developed in this project will have wide applicability to other listed and data poor species providing for a more effective and efficient management of this very diverse group. A key output of this project will be an assessment of the effectiveness of this approach for other listed and rare species.

Australian populations of sawfish have undergone substantial albeit unquantified declines in abundance, accompanied by fragmentation and range contraction. The species continue to be at risk from overfishing (commercial, recreational, and domestic/international IUU) and habitat modification. There has been no systematic monitoring of abundance, and therefore no way of demonstrating the extent of decline, or the current population trajectories.  The high spatial structuring of this species requires a landscape approach to their management.  We will develop a novel and modern assessment and monitoring strategy for freshwater sawfish in the Northern Australia to assess population status, distribution and assess current management effectiveness. Biological information will be collected on additional listed species as they are captured. The problems above are shared by many other high-profile listed species such as Australian sea lions, dugongs, marine turtles, and numerous other elasmobranchs. The techniques developed in this project will find application to these other species in the future, although the specifics will differ from species to species. In particular, the methods to address conservation issues for rare and data poor species should see wide application.

Visit the Sawfish project webpages