The state of Florida is reminding fishermen and coastal residents to be careful if you come in contact with sawfish in Florida waters.
Smalltooth sawfish were once found throughout Florida and were commonly encountered from Texas to North Carolina.
Biologist believe the current population is only 5 percent of what is was 200 years ago thanks mainly to habitat loss and damage caused by commercial and recreational fishermen.
In 2003, the species was listed as endangered
Most fishermen don’t target the species but the fish’s saw shaped nose makes them easy to snag with almost any type of hook or net.
If you happen to catch a sawfish while fishing, do not pull it out of the water and do not try to handle it.
Refrain from using ropes or restraining the animal in any way, and never remove the saw.
It is important that you untangle it if necessary and release the sawfish as quickly as possible by cutting the line as close to the hook as you can.
Franklin County is doing its part to help educate boaters about the species – the county has educational signs about smalltooth sawfish at water access points in Franklin County telling fishermen the safest way to handle the sawfish if they are caught, and how to safely remove them from hooks or from nets.
If you should see a sawfish in local waters please report it.
You can submit reports at SawfishRecovery.org, email sawfish@MyFWC.com or call 1-844-4SAWFISH.