Please protect the critically endangered freshwater sawfish

I am deeply concerned about the future of the critically endangered freshwater sawfish and its last great stronghold - the Martuwarra Fitzroy River.

I was shocked over the recent revelation in WA Parliament that 17 sawfish died in a dry floodplain upstream from irrigation infrastructure on Liveringa Station in November last year – a pastoral lease owned by billionaire Gina Rinehart – that also has a licence to pump water from a tributary of the Martuwarra Fitzroy River, and that this information was withheld from the public.

I was further concerned to hear that this was the second mass sawfish death on Liveringa Station and that both these events were withheld from the public.

I urge you and government to take the following steps to ensure the critically endangered freshwater sawfish is not put at further risk of extinction:

  • I urge you to launch an inquiry into the sawfish deaths and what caused these deaths to occur, including consultation with Traditional Owners and Indigenous Rangers.
  • I urge you to review the management of water licenses and water infrastructure in the Martuwarra Fitzroy River against the Sawfish and River Sharks Multispecies Recovery Plan, with a particular focus on barriers, habitat alteration and water extraction.
  • I urge you to release the recent report by Murdoch University into these sawfish deaths.
  • I urge you to ensure your government’s commitment to take no further surface water from the river is made legally binding.

Sawfish have roamed our rivers and oceans since the time of dinosaurs but are now critically endangered and have disappeared from over 70 per cent of their global range.

The mighty Martuwarra Fitzroy River is the last stronghold for the freshwater sawfish and its last great nursery – which is why I urge you to protect them and the river before it is too late.

I strongly urge you to commit to protecting the freshwater sawfish by taking action now and take steps to further protect the species.

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