Spatiotemporal distributions of two sympatric sawsharks (Pristiophorus cirratus and P. nudipinnis) in south-eastern Australian waters

V. Raoult*, V. Peddemors, K. Rowling, J. E. Williamson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)
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    Sawsharks are one of the least well-known groups of sharks globally, yet they are caught in large numbers in south-eastern Australia. In this study we assessed spatiotemporal patterns of distribution of two co-occurring species of sawsharks, namely the common sawshark (Pristiophorus cirratus) and the southern sawshark (Pristiophorus nudipinnis), to guide future research in this area. To identify where the animals may occur in greater numbers, this study used the major commercial fishery datasets in the region, containing nearly 180 000 catch records from 1990 to 2017. Several general patterns were evident. Sawsharks occurred at shallower and deeper depths than previously thought, and their geographical range was larger than documented in previous studies. Depth distributions of both species overlapped, but P. cirratus appeared more common in deeper water (at depths up to 500 m), with peak common sawshark catch rates at ∼400 m. Seasonal standardised catch patterns across fishing methods suggested that migrations from deeper to shallower waters may occur in the Australasian autumn and winter. The greatest concentration of sawsharks, inferred by standardised catch rates, occurred to the east and west of Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia. Although standardised catch rates of sawsharks declined in gill-net fisheries by ∼30%, primarily in the Bass Strait and Tasmania, sawsharks appear to be caught at consistent rates since the 1990s, inferring a possible resilience of these sharks to current levels of fishing pressure.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1342-1354
    Number of pages13
    JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
    Issue number10
    Early online date18 Mar 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Bibliographical note

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    • biomass (ecology)
    • catch per unit effort
    • CPUE
    • depth distribution
    • migrations
    • population dynamics
    • Pristiophoridae
    • stock assessment


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