|Town/Region||Barra del Colorado, Boca Cureña, Boca San Carlos, Corcovado National Park, Humedal Nacional Terraba-Sierpe|
|Continent||Central and Latin America|
|Categories||Fishes, Habitats, Marine|
|Date||12 Jun 2020|
In 2016, we began a project with the support from the RSGF in which we were able to: (i) investigate the historical and current distribution of the critically endangered largetooth sawfish within Costa Rican waters; and (ii) identify some of the main threats affecting their populations.
Based on our results, this species is likely now restricted to large rivers and wetlands in remote locations of the southern Pacific and northern Caribbean regions. These areas are subject to numerous anthropogenic pressures, including illegal fishing, rapid coastal/riverine development leading to mangrove clearing and habitat degradation, pollution, and sedimentation.
The project also had a strong educational and awareness component, which was crucial at changing people’s perceptions and fostered increased involvement of rural communities in the conservation of this large iconic species. Collectively, all of our efforts led to the legal protection of sawfish within Costa Rican waters in November 2017. However, despite these efforts, we continue to receive numerous reports of sawfish landings in some areas, as well as evidence of illegal trade of sawfish between Costa Rica and Latin American countries. According to the Global Strategy for Sawfish Conservation, countries need to minimize and/or mitigate local threats affecting sawfish populations, as well as build capacity, undertake research, education, and outreach activities. Our study sites in Costa Rica are included as priority areas in Central America to carry out these two main actions. Similar efforts combining research and education are currently being replicated in other areas of the world, including Florida, Bahamas, South Africa and Australia. Some of these programs have now over 10-15 years, and they have strong evidence of sawfish population recoveries, which highlight (1) that research and education are key towards sawfish recovery efforts, and (2) that it takes several years and constant financial support to achieve long-lasting conservation goals.
Read about Mario's previous project https://www.rufford.org/projects/mario_espinoza_1 or for more information contact: