Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

David VanderZwaag


Two species of sawfish, Pristis pristis and Pristis pectinata, used to be common in the coastal waters of the Caribbean Region. However, due to direct and incidental fishing pressures, national and international trade in body parts, and habitat loss, the populations of these ecologically and culturally significant species have drastically declined. This thesis identifies and reviews global and regional, binding and non-binding legal instruments in effect in the Caribbean Region that encourage states to protect biodiversity in general or address identified threats to sawfishes specifically. Despite the presence of obligations that call upon states to adopt sawfish conservation and habitat protection measures, declining numbers of these fishes in the Caribbean suggest deficiencies in the operation and implementation of the reviewed instruments. The thesis recommends steps that countries, intergovernmental organizations, and conservationists could take to secure a future for these remarkable species.