Can We Catch Sawfish In The Mississippi River


The Mississippi River is one of the longest rivers in the United States, stretching 2,320 miles. It is a vital resource for the people who live in and along its banks, providing drinking water, energy, and transportation. With such an expansive and integral waterway, it invites a wide variety of aquatic species. Could the rare and elusive sawfish be among them?

Historical Precedent

The sawfish has a long history in the waterways of the southeastern United States. Pristis pectinata, commonly known as the smalltooth sawfish, is the only sawfish species on the North American continent. It used to inhabit the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic seaboard from Florida to the Carolinas. In recent years, its range has decreased significantly, but there is still potential for it to be seen in parts of the Mississippi River.

In 1829, the smalltooth sawfish was observed in the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was noted that individuals up to 10 feet (3 meters) long were seen in the shallows near the city. Such sightings were relatively isolated, but they demonstrate that the species has historically been capable of entering the Mississippi.

Habitat Requirements

In order for sawfish to survive in the Mississippi River, their habitats must first be identified and protected. This species is known to inhabit coastal shallow waters, lagoons, and estuaries across the continental United States. These areas are rich in food sources and provide ample shelter and protection for the species’ young.

For the sawfish to flourish, it is important that their habitats remain free from pollutants and degradation. In addition, the waters must be kept at a consistent temperature, somewhere between 68 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (20-28°C). All of these factors will influence the likelihood of their successful reintroduction into the Mississippi River.

Restoration Efforts

Conservationists and researchers have been attempting to reintroduce smalltooth sawfish into the Mississippi River for years. In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began a project to reintroduce the species to the Southwest Pass region. The project was successful, with the population returning to that area only a few years later.

In 2020, the NOAA began a program to reintroduce the smalltooth sawfish to the Mississippi River with the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The program has seen success in the form of reintroducing nearly two hundred individuals over the course of the year.

Modern Challenges

Even with the reintroduction efforts, the modern Mississippi River still presents challenges for the smalltooth sawfish. Some of these include water pollution, destruction of natural habitats, and overfishing. The sawfish is still a vulnerable species, and without proper protection they could be pushed to extinction.

Another major challenge is the presence of large commercial vessels that use the Mississippi River regularly. These ships disrupt the connection between the river and its estuarine systems and can cause serious damage to any aquatic life in the area, including the sawfish.

Can We Catch Sawfish in the Mississippi River?

After considering the historical precedent and modern challenges, it is difficult to say whether or not the Mississippi River could be a successful habitat for the smalltooth sawfish. Although reintroduction efforts have been successful in some areas, the Mississippi River is still a long way from providing a safe and suitable habitat for this species.

The sawfish’s return to the Mississippi River would require further conservation efforts to protect the habitats of these animals and reduce the negative impacts of human activities. If these efforts prove successful, the Mississippi River may provide an opportunity to revive the once-thriving population of smalltooth sawfish.

Scientific Research

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the scientific research of the smalltooth sawfish. This species is of global importance, and many countries in Southeast Asia have invested in research and conservation efforts. In the United States, the NOAA and environmental groups have been working together to identify the best strategies for the sawfish’s recovery.

Scientists are studying the sawfish’s behavior, reproduction, and life cycle in order to understand how best to protect and restore this species. With the findings of these studies, researchers will be able to better inform conservationists and policymakers about the species’ needs. This knowledge can then be used to develop strategies for the successful reintroduction of the smalltooth sawfish into the Mississippi River.

Fishing Regulations

In the United States, the smalltooth sawfish is currently classified as a “Threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act. This designation provides certain protections, including fishing regulations. These regulations prevent people from fishing for the sawfish or using them as bait.

This is an important step in protecting the species, as fishing is one of the most pressing threats to the population of smalltooth sawfish. As such, the fishing regulations provide an important layer of protection for the species and their habitats.


The return of the smalltooth sawfish to the Mississippi River is a promising prospect, one that could be achieved in the near future. However, it will require significant conservation efforts, scientific research, and a mindful adherence to fishing regulations. With the collaborative efforts of researchers, conservationists, and policymakers, the sawfish could make its way back to the Mississippi River.

Raymond Strasser is a passion-driven writer and researcher, dedicated to educating readers on the topic of world rivers. With a background in Geography and Environmental Studies, Raymond provides insightful pieces which explore the impact and importance that rivers have around the world.

Leave a Comment